Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley drop defamation case on Twitter harassment

The campaigners against antisemitism had sought damages from a lawyer who had retweeted an article accusing them of harassing a 16-year-old girl


Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman have dropped their High Court libel case against a lawyer who retweeted an article accusing them of harassing a vulnerable 16-year-old.

Ms Riley, who is best known as the presenter of Countdown, and Ms Oberman, an actress, had alleged that Jane Heybroek’s retweeting of the article in January was defamatory.

The article accused Ms Riley and Ms Oberman of having “harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father.”

In May, the High Court’s Justice Jay issued a preliminary ruling that the article was defamatory and writing that Ms Oberman and Ms Riley’s reputations would “have been lowered in the eyes of the likely readers.”

This Wednesday, Ms Riley and Ms Oberman dropped the case and agreed to pay a portion of Ms Heybroek’s legal fees.

Ms Oberman and Ms Riley are prominent campaigners on social media, and had been strident critics of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of antisemitism within his party. 

In a statement posted online, Ms Heybroek said: “I wish to thank everyone who has helped me in the last 18 months; it will not be forgotten”.

"Ms Riley and Ms Oberman are not personally known to me,” she continued.

“Their claim saw them seeking damages and costs in respect of my retweet of a tweet by the blogger, Shaun Lawson, which contained a link to a blog article he had written about them in January 2019.

“Mr Lawson’s article, which concerned the celebrities’ alleged behaviour towards a teenage Labour supporter on Twitter, had been retweeted/shared by hundreds of people.

"Some of those people were threatened with legal action like me; others were not.

"Ultimately, despite press reports which suggested as many as 70 people might face legal action, I was the only person who was sued."

Ms Heybroek added that thanks to her spending £30,000 “at a very early stage” and a fundraiser she was able to “retain leading defamation lawyers, and properly contest the case.”  

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