Rachel Riley wins libel case against blogger who said she was a ‘serial abuser’

Countdown star had been accused of encouraging online harassment of a 16-year-old Twitter user sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn


LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: TV presenter Rachel Riley hands in a petition to 10 Downing Street on May 23, 2019 in London, England. Ms Riley joined other campaigners to hand in a petition of more than 35,000 signatures calling for more government funding for Dementia. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

A High Court judge ruled on Wednesday to strike out blogger Mike Sivier’s libel defences in a case brought against him by Countdown star Rachel Riley. 

Mr Sivier accused the TV presenter in 2019 to have engaged in and encouraged a campaign of online harassment against a 16-year-old Twitter user sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn. 

He said Ms Riley was a “serial abuser” and that she had “cold-shouldered" the teen, identified only as Rose, leading to her receiving death threats. 

But Justice Collins Rice found she could not discern “a case, arguable with a realistic prospect of success, that it is substantially true that Ms Riley engaged upon, supported and encouraged a campaign of online abuse and harassment of Rose.”

The judge also said it was “self-evident” Ms Riley’s main concern was “antisemitism in general”.

Mr Sivier, who has crowdsourced more than £100,000 to cover his legal fees, said he intends to appeal. 

Ms Riley, who has been represented by media lawyer Mark Lewis, said she hoped the case would serve as a reminder “you cannot lie and defame people without consequences and even if some seem to forget this rule when on social media, libel law does not.”  

Mr Sivier now has an opportunity to plead that the defamatory claim did not cause serious harm to her reputation - but Mr Lewis said “we are very confident that such arguments would not succeed”.

Mr lewis added: “A simple analysis of the evidence showed that the vicious slurs were not true, factually what was alleged just did not happen. The enthusiasm to attack tireless campaigners against antisemitism, Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman meant that those attacking simply ignored basic facts to propagate a false narrative that suited them. Sadly antisemitism through the ages has been based upon such vitriol rather than facts.”.

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