Court determines meaning of defamatory statements in libel case against Jeremy Corbyn

The meaning of Jeremy Corbyn MP's statements about Richard Millett held to be statements of fact and to be defamatory at common law

This morning Mr Justice Saini handed down judgment in a hearing sought by the Defendant, The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, as to the meaning of statements he made on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme in September 2018 about the Claimant, Richard Millett.    Mr Corbyn’s comments were made in response to Andrew Marr’s questions about a speech from 2013 that had later come to prominence in which Mr Corbyn had said of certain persons that “they don’t understand English irony“.  Mr Corbyn defended his comments by reference to the misconduct of certain unnamed persons.

Mr Corbyn did not name Mr Millett in his statements, but Mr Millett’s case is that he would have been understood to have been referred to.

The Court held that Mr Corbyn’s statements did refer to Mr Millett and bore a defamatory meaning of fact that, in summary, Mr Millett had previously acted in a disruptive way in meetings and had been extremely abusive in his treatment of the Palestinian Ambassador at a particular meeting in 2013.  This is essentially the meaning contended for by the Claimant.

The meaning was held to be defamatory at common law.

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

The judgment is available at the Files link below.