TV presenter Rachel Riley has received £10,000 in damages from a High Court judge after a former aide to Jeremy Corbyn was sued for defamation.
Riley, 35, the numbers expert on Channel 4’s show Countdown, sued Laura Murray over a tweet posted more than two years ago.
Judge Nicklin, who oversaw the High Court case in London in May, issued a ruling on Monday. He said Riley deserved to be “acquitted”.
He had heard how both women tweeted after Corbyn, who was the leader of the Labor Party at the time, was infected with an egg while visiting a mosque in March 2019.
Murray tweeted in response to a post from the TV presenter.
Riley initially posted a screenshot of a January 2019 tweet written by Guardian columnist Owen Jones about an attack on former British National Party leader Nick Griffin, which said: “I think life sound advice is, if you don’t want eggs thrown at you.” Don’t be a Nazi.” She added a “good tip” with emojis of a red rose and an egg.
Later, Murray tweeted: “Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque to visit mine, and was attacked by a Brexit supporter. Rachel Riley tweeted that Corbyn deserved to be attacked because he is a Nazi. This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. She shouldn’t No one to deal with. Never.”
Riley said she was sarcastic in her tweet, did not call Corbyn a Nazi, and told the judge that Murray’s tweet had caused serious damage to her reputation.
Murray was a stakeholder manager in Corbyn’s office when he was Labor leader and went on to chair the party’s complaints, before moving on to teaching.
She argued that what she tweeted was true and honestly reflects her well-established views.
Nicklin ruled in a previous hearing that Murray’s tweet was defamatory. He concluded that the tweet meant that Riley “publicly stated” that Corbyn had been attacked while visiting a mosque; that he “deserved to be violently attacked”; By doing so, she has shown herself to be a “dangerous and stupid person” who “risks inciting unlawful violence”; and that people should not “deal with it”.
The judge was asked to consider whether serious damage to Riley’s reputation had been done and whether Murray had a defense of truth, honest opinion, or the public interest.
Riley, who studied mathematics at Oxford University and is on maternity leave from Count Down after giving birth in November, told the judge she was Jewish and had a “hate of anti-Semitism”.
She said she spoke out against anti-Semitism and believed Corbyn’s Labor Party was “promoting anti-Semitism”.
Murray told the judge that her job included working with the Jewish community “to try and find solutions to the problem of anti-Semitism that had become evident in parts of the Labor Party membership.”
Nicklin concluded that Riley had proven that Murray’s tweet had caused serious damage to her reputation. It was found that both women were honest in the evidence they presented and did their best to assist the court.