Countdown presenter Rachel Riley has claimed she was subjected to an “onslaught of abuse” on social media after an aide to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn labelled her “dangerous” and “stupid” .
The 35 year-old campaigner against antisemitism told the High Court that every time she recalls Laura Murray’s tweet “it is re-traumatising and upsetting and I experience the same physical and mental reactions which affect my sleep and wellbeing.”
Rileys, who is suing Murray for libel, also said the March 2019 tweet had caused “serious harm” to her reputation.
The argument erupted on social media after an egg was hurled at Corbyn during a visit to Finsbury Park Mosque in north London on 3 March, 2019.
Riley then shared a screenshot of a post by Guardian columnist Owen Jones about a similar egg attack on former British National Party leader Nick Griffin in January 2019.
Jones had commented: “I think sound life advice is, if you don’t want eggs thrown at you, don’t be a Nazi.”
Riley’s reply to Jones included the words “good advice” followed by a rose and egg emoji.
Riley, 35, told the High Court today that she was subjected to a “concerted attack” following Murray’s tweet in March 2019. She said that an online campaign had been initiated to “get me fired from my job, as being someone who had advocated violence”.
Mr Justice Nicklin, the judge in the trial, had ruled at an earlier hearing that Murray’s tweet was defamatory.
He will consider whether serious harm was caused to Riley’s reputation –
and whether Murray had a “truth” or a “public interest” defence to the libel claim.
Riley claimed she was being “sarcastic” in her tweet and had not called Corbyn a Nazi.
William McCormick QC, for Murray, argued that his client’s tweet was true.
“The claimant [Riley] chose to tweet to her 625,000-plus followers about a violent attack in a manner which was both stupid and dangerous,” he said. “It was obvious that her tweet would provoke hostile reactions of the kind that did in fact emerge.
“What the defendant (Ms Murray) tweeted was true, reflected her honestly-held opinions and was a responsible exercise of her own rights of expression on a matter of real public importance.”
The trial is expected to end on Wednesday.
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