Jeremy Corbyn to give evidence at High Court trial after libel claim
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Jeremy Corbyn to give evidence at High Court trial after libel claim

Jewish blogger Richard Millett has sued the former Labour leader over remarks he made during an interview on the BBC in 2018, about “Zionists” who “don’t understand English irony”.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the 2013 meeting, where he made the English irony remarks. Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail.
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the 2013 meeting, where he made the English irony remarks. Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to give evidence at a three-week High Court trial after being accused of libel by a Jewish blogger, a judge has been told.

Richard Millett has sued Mr Corbyn over remarks he made during an interview on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show in 2018, when he was leader of the opposition.

Mr Justice Nicklin considered pre-trial issues at a High Court hearing in London on Monday.

Lawyers representing Mr Corbyn, who is fighting the claim, said 41 people, including Mr Corbyn and Mr Millett, could give evidence.

Richard Millett

William McCormick QC, who is leading Mr Corbyn’s legal team, said Mr Corbyn was relying on 32 witnesses, plus himself, and Mr Millett on seven, plus himself.

In a written case outline, he said Mr Corbyn was mounting a “truth defence” against allegations made by Mr Millett.

Mr Justice Nicklin is due to begin overseeing the trial on October 10. Lawyers estimate the trial will last 15 days.

The judge told lawyers he will not let the trial turn into “some sort of showpiece”.

“There is the capacity for this to spin into all manner of satellite issues,” he said. “This trial is not going to turn into some sort of showpiece.

“Sometimes there is a tendency for the settling of scores about issues that are not relevant to the litigation.” He added: “That will not be taking place in this trial.”

Mr Millett attended Monday’s hearing via a remote link. Mr Corbyn did not attend.

Detail of the claim emerged at earlier hearings.

During the interview, Mr Corbyn was asked if he was an antisemite and shown a recording of a speech he made in 2013 in which he referred to “Zionists” who “don’t understand English irony”, judges have heard.

In response, Mr Corbyn referred to two people having been “incredibly disruptive” and “very abusive” at a meeting in the House of Commons the same year, at which Manuel Hassassian – then Palestinian ambassador to the UK – was speaking.

Mr Millett’s argues that, although he was not named by Mr Corbyn, he was defamed because national media coverage before the broadcast made him identifiable to viewers as one of those referred to.

Mr Corbyn says he was defending himself against allegations of antisemitism when he made the comments.

Another judge made rulings on preliminary issues at an earlier stage of the litigation.

Mr Justice Saini made a decision on the “natural and ordinary meaning” of the words complained of by Mr Millett and found that they referred to him.

The judge found the meaning of the words included that Mr Millett had been “so disruptive” that police wished to remove him from the premises, that he had acted in a disruptive way at other meetings and that Mr Hassassian was “caused distress” by his behaviour.

He also concluded that the remarks were a “statement of fact”, rather than opinion, and were defamatory of Mr Millett at common law.

Mr Corbyn challenged some of the judge’s findings at a Court of Appeal hearing – but appeal judges dismissed his challenge.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments