Countdown presenter Rachel Riley has been awarded £10,000 damages by a High Court judge after suing a former aide to Jeremy Corbyn for libel following a social media exchange.
The television presenter who studied mathematics at Oxford University and is on maternity leave from Countdown after giving birth in November, complained about a tweet that the former Labour Party’s Head of Complaints, Laura Murray, posted more than two years ago.
Mr Justice Nicklin oversaw the High Court case in London in May and delivered a ruling earlier today (Monday) saying Ms Riley was “entitled” to “vindication.”
The case came about after both women posted tweets about then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn being hit with an egg while visiting a mosque in March 2019.
Ms Riley initially posted a screenshot of a January 2019 tweet by Guardian columnist Owen Jones about an attack on former British National Party leader Nick Griffin, which said:
“I think sound life advice is, if you don’t want eggs thrown at you, don’t be a Nazi.”
The Countdown presenter added “Good advice”, with emojis of a red rose and an egg.
However, the former Labour aide Ms Murray then tweeted:
“Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque for Visit My Mosque Day, and was attacked by a Brexiteer. Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi. This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.”
Ms Riley said she was being sarcastic in her tweet, did not call Mr Corbyn a Nazi, and told the judge that Ms Murray’s tweet caused serious harm to her reputation.
Ms Murray was stakeholder manager in Mr Corbyn’s office when he was Labour leader, and went on to be the party’s head of complaints, before going into teaching.
Mr Justice Nicklin ruled Ms Murray’s tweet was in fact defamatory saying:
“This case is unusual. It turns, largely, on two tweets: the good advice tweet and the defendant’s tweet.
“I have found that the publication of the defendant’s tweet has caused serious harm to the claimant’s reputation, and I have rejected the defendant’s defences.”
“The claimant is therefore entitled to a sum in damages.”
Ms Riley said in a tweet:
“I’m extremely pleased to have won my libel case vs Laura Murray, former head of complaints for the Labour Party.
“This has been a very draining process and I’m relieved to finally have vindication.”