Rachel Riley decision upheld

Laura Murray's appeal dismissed

Judgment was today handed down by the Court of Appeal in the libel case Rachel Riley v Laura Murray. The court upheld the trial decision of Mr Justice Nicklin that defences of truth, honest opinion and public interest did not succeed. Therefore the trial judge’s award of £10,000 in damages stands.

The trial judgment was handed down in December 2021. Ms Riley won damages of £10,000 for libel against Ms Murray. The claim concerned a tweet posted by Ms Murray in March 2019 in the aftermath of an attack on Jeremy Corbyn with an egg. At a preliminary trial of meaning, the tweet was held to convey the defamatory meaning that Ms Riley had publicly stated in a tweet that Jeremy Corbyn deserved to be violently attacked, and an allied expression of opinion as to Ms Riley being “dangerous” and “stupid”.

At trial, Mr Justice Nicklin found that Ms Murray’s defences of truth and honest opinion failed. The defence of public interest also failed as Ms Murray had not shown her honest belief that the publication of her tweet was in the public interest was reasonable.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here and the trial judgment and a short summary of it here.

5RB’s William Bennett QC and Godwin Busuttil acted for Rachel Riley on the appeal and Jacob Dean for Laura Murray.

At the trial 5RB’s John Stables was led by William Bennett QC for Ms Riley and Jacob Dean acted for Ms Murray.