A pro-Brexit British businessman launched a defamation case two years ago against Guardian investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr, over statements she made in 2019 about her possible ties to the Russian government. Cadwalladr could potentially be personally liable for more than £1 million in the event of a loss. The case will continue next Friday.
Cadwalladr spoke at TED2019 about the role Facebook played in the Brexit referendum. He exposed misleading advertisements, targeting impressionable voters who ended up winning for the Brexit camp.
Multi-millionaire and outspoken Brexit supporter, Arron Banks, is cited by Cadwalladr as someone who has not been open about his past relationships with the Russian government. Banks immediately began a defamation case against investigative journalists in 2019. In the first ruling, the judge concluded that the average listener could only conclude that Banks lied about his ties to the Russian government and the origin of some of the funds.
Banks said based on the statement that Cadwalladr had tarnished his name. The investigative reporter replied that he never said that Banks took money from foreign powers. In 2016, Banks endorsed the so-called Nigel Farage Leave campaign for the equivalent of 9.5 million euros. It was the largest contribution in British political history.
Leave was later found to have violated election and data laws. During his TED talk, Cadwalladr casually cited an investigation by the UK Election Commission specifically into the origins of Banks’ donation. Political donations from abroad are prohibited. In the end, no violations were found by the committee.
Supporters point to the fact that Cadwalladr has been hanging on an expensive affair for two years now. They also called it blatant that Banks was suing the journalist as a person and not (also) TED, who offered him the stage. The video is there also just to see.
The Observer’s editor-in-chief Paul Webster said he supported Cadwalladr: “His bold reporting has shown the public the secret role that powerful people, organizations and social media play in trying to influence our democracy and the hidden role technology plays in determining our politics. ”
According to proponents, the case had a chilling effect on feeling able to report possible abuses. At the European level, efforts are now underway to better protect journalists from these types of intimidating lawsuits, primarily intended to prevent publication. There is no such law in Great Britain either.
The case will be heard next Friday. Cadwalladr will personally defend himself against Banks’ allegations there. If found guilty, Cadwalladr will have to cover the Bank’s legal costs, now at least £750,000. He may also be ordered to pay damages. More in Guardian
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