Arron Banks v Cadwalladr [2019] EWHC 3451 (QB)

On 12 December 2019 Saini J handed down judgment on the preliminary issue of the meanings of publications upon which Mr Banks sues Carole Cadwalladr for libel.

The most prominent of the publications was a “TED Talk” (viewed to date more than 3 million times) in which the defendant said (in the context of discussing UK referendum financing) “And I am not even going to go into the lies that Arron Banks has told about his covert relationship with the Russian Government”.

Mr Banks sued on the basis that that this meant that he had repeatedly lied about the nature and extent of his relationship with the Russian Government. In response to the initial Letter of Claim, the defendant tweeted “I say he lied about his contact with Russian govt. Because he did.”

Mr Banks sued on the basis that that tweet bore essentially the same meaning as the TED Talk.

Despite the clear words she used on both occasions, before the judge the defendant argued that she had she done no more than allege that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Banks had lied and that there were grounds to investigate whether he had accepted foreign funding in breach of UK referendum law.

The Judge disagreed. He held that the defendant had accused Mr Banks of lying about a secret relationship with the Russian Government in relation to accepting foreign funding in breach of UK electoral law.

In relation to 2 other publications the Judge decided that the words meant no more than that there were of grounds to investigate certain matters concerning campaign funding.

The judgment can be read here.

William Mccormick QC, instructed by Sue Thackeray of Kingsley Napley LLP represented Mr Banks.