Rachel Riley court victory leaves former Corbyn aide with £500k legal bill

Former Countdown presenter awarded £10,000 in damages


LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: In this handout image provided by Bauer Media, Rachel Riley poses with campaigners outside of the Houses of Parliament before delivering the 'Where's Your Head At?' Mental Health petition to Downing Street on October 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Handout/Tom Nicholson for Bauer Media via Getty Images )

TV star Rachel Riley has left a former Jeremy Corbyn aide facing at least half a million pounds in legal costs after defeating her in a gruelling two-year libel battle that concluded this week.

The judge found that Ms Riley, 35, was entitled to “vindication” over a tweeted posted by Mr Corbyn’s former head of complaints Laura Murray, 32, in 2019 and awarded the Countdown presenter £10,000 in damages.

But the JC understands that Ms Murray will face legal bills running into the hundreds of thousands.

It is as yet unclear how Ms Murray, whose family, according to the Times, was behind the sale of Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece L’Enfant au Pigeon for £50m in 2013, will pay the costs of the case.

Ms Murray reportedly also owns a share of a £1.3m north London property transferred to her by her mother, reportedly saving up to £500,000 in inheritance tax.

Tweeting after the court case, Ms Riley said: “I’m extremely pleased to have won my libel case vs Laura Murray, former head of complaints for the Labour Party. This has been a very draining process and I am relieved to finally have vindication.”

Thanking her lawyer, she added: “Huge thanks to Mark Lewis, a superhero whose help has been unquantifiable.”

The dispute began more than two years ago after Mr Corbyn was hit with an egg during a visit to mosque in March 2019.

Ms Riley posted a screenshot about a previous egg attack on former British National Party leader Nick Griffin which said: “I think sound life advice is, if you don’t want eggs thrown at you don’t be a Nazi.”

Reposting the screenshot of the tweet, Ms Riley wrote “good advice” with emojis of a red rose and an egg.
Later, Ms Murray tweeted: “Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque for Visit My Mosque day and was attacked by a Brexiteer. Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi. This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.”

In High Court, Mr Justice Nicklin heard that Ms Riley said her tweet was sarcastic, that she did not call the former Labour leader a Nazi and Ms Murray’s tweet had caused serious harm to her reputation.

Ms Riley told the court she was Jewish, had a “hatred of antisemitism” and that the former Labour leader was fostering anti-Jewish racism.

Ms Murray argued that what she tweeted had been true and her honestly held opinion but at an earlier hearing Mr Justice Nicklin ruled the post was defamatory.

Mr Justice Nicklin was also asked to consider whether serious harm had been caused to the Countdown presenter’s reputation and whether Ms Murray, who is now a teacher, had a defence of truth, honest opinion, or public interest.

He concluded that Ms Riley had demonstrated Ms Murray’s tweet had caused serious harm.

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