Virus forces change in Rachel Riley court battle with Labour complaints chief

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Virus forces change in Rachel Riley court battle with Labour complaints chief

Countdown host's High Court hearing regarding Laura Murray will be changed to a private paper submission with a written judgment on the case

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Rachel Riley.(Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire)
Rachel Riley.(Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire)

A High Court hearing due to be held in public on Tuesday, in which the Countdown presenter Rachel Riley is taking legal action against Labour’s complaints chief, Laura Murray, will be changed to private paper submissions because of the coronavirus crisis. A judge will later issue a full written judgment on the case.

The case relates to social media tweets by the TV presenter and Ms Murray, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest officials.

Ms Riley is seeking £50,000 in damages, plus legal costs, after she and Ms Murray rowed online in the wake of an appearance by the then Labour leader on Visit Your Mosque Day in March 2019, in the course of which a Brexit supporter threw an egg at him.

Ms Riley then re-tweeted a post by the Guardian columnist, Owen Jones, who had previously written: “If you don’t want eggs thrown at you, don’t be a Nazi. Seems fair to me,” and she had then commented: “Sound advice.”

She said she was seeking to point out that some left-wingers were more concerned by the far right’s extremism than they were by similar views on the left.

But Ms Murray tweeted in response that Ms Riley was as “dangerous as she is stupid”, adding: “Nobody engage with her. Ever.” It is understood that Ms Murray, who subsequently deleted her tweet, believed Ms Riley’s comment to mean that Corbyn was himself a Nazi and deserved to be egged, an interpretation which the Countdown host vigorously denied.

Ms Riley issued proceedings, having engaged the leading libel lawyer Mark Lewis, against Ms Murray in June last year.

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