A pro-Israel activist in London is suing Jeremy Corbyn for defamation after video emerged of the Labour leader criticising British Zionists in 2013 for disrupting meetings and for having a lack of irony.
Asked about the comments last year, Corbyn said the activists – including claimant Richard Millett – had been “incredibly disruptive” and were “very, very abusive” towards Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Professor Manuel Hassassian.
Millett, a blogger who writes about Israel and antisemitism, said Corbyn’s comments “has caused and is likely to cause serious harm” to his reputation, and had caused “substantial anxiety, humiliation, upset and distress”.
The lawsuit lists Millett as “a blogger and commentator on matters concerning the perception of and attitudes towards Jews in this country and concerning the discussion of and attitudes towards the Jewish homeland of Israel”.
It adds: “A crucial part of [Millett’s] work [is] that he be allowed to attend meetings on these matters so that he can report and comment on them… The defamatory allegations will tend to make others refuse [Millett] entry to meetings, to shun him and to be wary of the opinions and facts he expresses.”
Acting for Millett is William Bennett QC, who recently acted for North West Friends of Israel co-chair Raphi Bloom in a libel case against Random House, which published a book making false accusations concerning a 2014 protest outside an Israeli cosmetics shop. Bennett said the claims caused Bloom “significant consternation”.
Millett is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, plus an injunction “to restrain [Corbyn]” from repeating the accusations.
A Labour spokesperson has said: “This claim is absurd and will be robustly challenged.”