Rachel Riley wins libel case against journalist who called her ‘serial abuser’

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Rachel Riley wins libel case against journalist who called her ‘serial abuser’

Countdown presenter took action against Vox Political reporter Mike Sivier, whose supporters referred to the activist as a 'lying malicious Zionist'.

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Countdown star Rachel Riley. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire
Countdown star Rachel Riley. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Rachel Riley has won a decisive libel battle against a journalist who falsely accused her of being a “serial abuser”, made claims verging “on the perverse” and whose supporters referred to her as a “lying malicious Zionists.”

The Countdown presenter and campaigner against Jew-hate brought legal action against Vox Political reporter Mike Sivier, which was successfully pursued with fellow Jewish TV personality Tracy Ann-Oberman, represented by lawyer Mark Lewis.

Late last year a High Court judge heard pre-trial submissions over the pending libel case between Riley and Sivier, concerning the latter’s 2019 article in which he called Riley a “serial abuser”, including of a 16-year-old girl who received death threats.

On Wednesday Riley, who was a vocal critic of Labour’s handling of antisemitism under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership announced victory, saying Sivier had “repeatedly made false allegations about me over the past two years, using arguments to defend his claims that in her judgment, the judge described as “fanciful” and verging “on the perverse.””

Riley said donors to Sivier’s crowdfunding campaign, that raised more than £100,000 for legal fees, included “hardcore antisemites citing ‘lying malicious Zionists’, and vulnerable people with little income to spare.”

Taking to Twitter, Riley said in a statement, that abuse began following the announcement of an interview two years ago.

“It felt like a tap had been turned on and the large volume of abuse I was receiving seemed to increase exponentially.”

“Trolls turned their attention to discrediting my arguments by smearing my character”, including from Uruguay-based activist Shaun Lawson who launched a “particularly nasty (defamatory and untrue) smear, which gained a life of its own in left-wing circles, falsely accusing me of having harassed and bullied a teenage girl with mental health problems. This is untrue.

“Today, a judgment has come out, finally dealing with the merits of these horrendous allegations. These accusations were fantasy, and as such have been dismissed without trial”.

She said it was “very sad and frustrating that I was forced to resort to legal action to have this myth dispelled.

“I am hugely grateful to the wonderful Lawyer, Mark Lewis, for taking up this case as my sole opportunity to have the record set straight.

Tracy Ann Oberman took to Twitter saying: “This is what happens when you lie about us. A lie is half way around the world (from Uruguay to Wales) before the truth has got its boots on. But when the truth catches up it stamps down on the lie. Repeating the Lawson lies will cost you.”

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