The Jewish Voice For Labour group, its co-founder Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, and website editor Richard Kuper, have settled and apologised in a libel case brought against them by the journalist John Ware.
A statement tweeted by the pro-Jeremy Corbyn group at 6.49 pm on Thursday stated: “Mediation in the case brought by John Ware against Jewish Voice for Labour and two of its officers has now occurred and we can announce that terms of settlement have been agreed, including an apology from Naomi Wimborne Idrissi and JVL for defamatory statements made on the Jeremy Vine Show and included in a Facebook post which we reproduced on our website on 15 July 2019.”
Asked to comment, Ware told Jewish News: “I can confirm my case against Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, JVL and Richark Kuper has been settled and that there will be a full apology made to me in open court next month.”
Asked if he had been awarded damages, the BBC Panorama reporter said the terms of the settlement did not permit him to disclose the details.
However, JVL has issued a plea for £200, 000 on the Crowd Justice website after admitting the settlement “comes at considerable financial cost.”
The size of the payment suggests JVL have had to pay both costs and damages.
The group added:”The legal costs we had to incur in order to bring about a successful settlement cannot be disclosed but are considerable and have to be paid in a very short space of time.”
JVL declined to give a breakdown of the payment. “As part of the settlement reached neither side is at liberty to comment on the terms of the agreement” they told Jewish News.
Ware had begun the libel claim after saying JVL had defamed his reputation as a professional journalist following the broadcast of the July 2019 BBC Panorama programme that investigated antisemitism within Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.
The day after transmission JVL’s media officer Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi told the BBC Radio2 Jeremy Vine show that Ware had “ a terrible record of Islamophobia, far right politics, he’s been disciplined at – BBC has had to apologise.”
She also wrote on her Facebook page that Ware was a journalist with a “ record of right wing, racist work.”
Ware’s lawyer Mark Lewis responded by stating he has never been disciplined for anything by the BBC, is not an Islamophobe, has never engaged in “far right politics” and that none of his work was racist.
Initially JVL argued that Ms Wimborne Idrissi’s words were expressed as merely honest opinion.
However, a judge ruled she had asserted them as if they were fact. This meant that if JVL were going to defend them as being true, they would have to seek to prove they were true at trial on the balance of probabilities.
Rather than adopt a “Truth Defence”, instead JVL sought to justify her words under the lesser known libel defence of “privileged right of reply to attack” in response to what the JVL described as “ the very public attacks contained in the Panorama Programme against our members, the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.”
They noted Vine’s radio show had “involved clips from John Ware’s interviews with four former Labour Party members, all of whom were highly critical of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in relation to antisemitism.”
They added:”JVL were well known as being close supporters of the Corbyn leadership.”
Earlier this summer, however, JVL said they wanted to explore a settlement through mediation.
Ware has already successfully sued the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn for falsely alleging that he had “ deliberately” set out to “mislead the public in the Panorama on antisemitism “invented quotes” and “knowingly promoted falsehoods and “fabricated facts.”
He is also suing a former TV producer and Corbyn supporter Paddy French who runs a website exposing “rogue journalists.”
French accused Ware of having “engaged in dirty tricks aimed at harming the Labour Party’s chances of winning the General Election by authoring and presenting an edition of Panorama in which he presented a biased and knowingly false presentation of the extent and nature of antisemitism within the party, deliberately ignoring contrary evidence.”
However, French recently announced that he had dropped Truth as a defence in the case but continues to justify his comments on the ground that they were in the public interest.
Explaining his reason for taking proceedings against JVL at the outset of the case Ware said; “They need to understand that there’s a high price to pay if you go around making false claims.
“The accusations that I am an ‘Islamophobe, racist and engaged in far right politics’ are grossly offensive. The Court will decide whether they are lies.”
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