Countdown Presenter Rachel Riley Loses Latest Round of Legal Battle

Countdown presenter Rachel Riley is currently suing blogger Mike Sivier of Vox Political over an article he wrote in 2019 which she claims is seriously defamatory. The article alleged Riley had engaged in a "campaign of online abuse and harassment" against a teenager on Twitter.

In the previous round of the legal battle, the judge had struck out Sivier's defences that the article was substantially true, honest opinion, and a matter of public interest on the basis there was no prospect of them succeeding at trial. 

At the appeal, however, three judges agreed the case should go to full trial so that Sivier's public interest defence can be heard in full. This is because his article had relied on two articles by blogger Shaun Lawson which were not presented as evidence in the previous rounds.

Mike Sivier's lawyers stated his article addresses matters of public interest, including online bullying and harassment, mental health, antisemitism, and the power of a popular celebrity relative to a minor.

Rachel Riley's lawyers had insisted Sivier's defences again be struck out on the basis they have no realistic prospect of success.

Lord Justice Warby stated: "In my judgment, it is plainly arguable, at the very least, that the Article was about matters of public interest. Indeed, it seems to me to be barely arguable that it was not."

So the appeal was upheld.

Although this is a positive step for Mike Sivier and he certainly seems optimistic in his blog, it's important to clarify this case is not over. It simply means he now has the opportunity to present further evidence to a judge at trial and have all of his evidence scrutinised in closer detail. This is assuming both parties are willing to go to full trial, as it is entirely possible the parties could agree to a settlement. 

Rachel Riley is currently suing former Jeremy Corbyn aide Laura Murray for libel, and she has previously withdrawn a libel case against barrister Jane Heybroek, in which Riley agreed to pay a substantial settlement fee.

IMPORTANT: I recommend refraining from offering any opinion on the rights and wrongs of this case for legal reasons.

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