It was Henry Kissinger who is reputed to have said of the Iran-Iraq war that the ideal outcome would be for both sides to lose. For some reason that saying comes to mind in relation to the Carole Cadwalladr case. Today she won her legal battle against arch-Brexiteer Arron Banks.
The founder of Leave.EU tried to sue the Guardian and Observer journalist over comments she made in a 2019 TED Talk and a tweet about his relationship with the Russian state.
Yet Mrs Justice Steyn concluded that Cadwalladr had succeeded in establishing a public interest defence. She dismissed Banks’ claim and awarded the arch-Brexiteer no damages or legal fees.
Banks’ legal team claims the whole affair was about clearing the multi-millionaire’s name – despite the National Crime Agency (NCA) having cleared him of criminal wrongdoing during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The verdict has been hailed as a victory for press freedom by campaigners. Rebecca Vincent, director of operations at Reporters Sans Frontières, said: “Journalists must be free to do their jobs without fear of lengthy and costly litigation for covering certain topics or individuals.”
Banks isn’t out for the count just yet. Shortly after the verdict, he tweeted: “Congratulations to Carole on winning today, it leaves open for the journalist the excuse that she thought what she said was correct even though she had no facts. There are important points of law at stake here & we will likely appeal.”
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Bet it won’t be the last we hear of Cadwalladr vs Banks. As Mark Wallace, of ConservativeHome, once put it: they are like the old married couple of Brexit, needing each other to maintain the feud.