Television presenter Rachel Riley has lost the latest round of a libel battle with a political blogger and Jeremy Corbyn supporter over an article which alleged that she engaged in a “campaign of online abuse and harassment” against a teenager on Twitter.
Ms Riley, 35, the numbers expert on the Channel 4 show Countdown, sued Mike Sivier after he published an article on his website Vox Political in January 2019 with the headline: “Serial abuser Rachel Riley to receive ‘extra protection’ – on grounds that she is receiving abuse”.
Mr Sivier defended what he had published, arguing that it was “substantially true”, honest opinion, and a matter of public interest.
A High Court judge had ruled in favour of Ms Riley and struck out Mr Sivier’s defences.
Mrs Justice Collins Rice concluded that he had “no prospect” of succeeding at a trial.
But Mr Sivier on Friday won an appeal.
Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that Mr Sivier’s public interest defence should be assessed at a trial.
“I would allow the appeal,” said one appeal judge, Lord Justice Warby, in a written ruling.
“I would set aside the order striking out the defence of publication on matter of public interest.”
He added: “In my view, the appropriate course is for the public interest defence to be assessed at a trial.”
The two other appeal judges, Lord Justice Henderson and Dame Victoria Sharp, said they agreed.
Ms Riley is waiting to hear whether she has won a separate damages fight after suing a former aide to Jeremy Corbyn for libel.
She sued Laura Murray, 32, over a tweet posted two years ago.
A High Court judge finished overseeing a three-day trial at the High Court in London earlier this week.
Mr Justice Nicklin is expected to publish a ruling in the near future.
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