Court determines meaning in Rachel Riley v Laura Murray libel case

The meaning of the tweet complained of held to be statements of fact and opinion and to be defamatory at common law

This morning Nicklin J handed down judgment in a hearing sought by the Defendant, Laura Murray, as to the meaning of a tweet sued on in libel by the television presenter Rachel Riley.  The tweet was published by Ms Murray on the day of an incident in March 2019 in which an egg was broken on Jeremy Corbyn’s head by a protestor.  At the time she published the tweet, Ms Murray was employed as the Stakeholder Manager in Jeremy Corbyn’s office when he was leader of the Labour Party.

The application was heard on the papers.

The Court held the tweet to convey a defamatory meaning of fact that, “The Claimant had publicly stated in a tweet that he [Jeremy Corbyn] deserved to be violently attacked“.  This is essentially the meaning contended for by the Claimant.

An allied expression of opinion as to the Claimant being “dangerous”, “stupid” and risking inciting unlawful violence was also determined.

These limbs of meaning were both held to be defamatory at common law.

5RB’s William Bennett QC and John Stables appeared for Ms Riley, instructed by Patron Law.