The British High Court has dismissed pro-Brexit financier Arron Banks’ defamation lawsuit against investigative reporter Carole Cadwalladr. On Monday (June 13), the court determined that the Guardian journalist’s public interest argument was valid. The defamation action stemmed from Cadwalladr’s statements in a TED Talk and a later Twitter post, wherein she claimed Banks, the founder of the Leave.EU movement, was dishonest concerning his ties to the Russian state.
According to the High Court, Banks was furious because Cadwalladr said he hadn’t been truthful regarding hidden discussions with the Russian government with respect to “admission of foreign funding of election campaigns in violation of the legislation on such funding.” Banks claimed that Cadwalladr’s words were “false and defamatory,” and demanded compensation and an injunction to prevent the comments from being published again. The comments are still accessible to watch digitally.
On Monday, Justice Steyn quashed the lawsuit, stating that Cadwalladr had a “reasonable belief” that her remarks were in the interest of the nation. “I won the one thing that mattered – Brexit,” Banks remarked on Twitter shortly after the verdict was announced. Cadwalladr, who probed the financing of Brexit campaigns and potential data exploitation in connection with them, declared she was “very thankful and relieved” by the decision.
According to Cadwalladr’s legal team, the High Court decision “is a crucial vindication.” The decision upholds the public interest argument and the “protection it affords journalists, bloggers, and others to participate in public discourse on significant matters,” as per Keith Mathieson of the law firm RPC, which represented Cadwalladr. It was a win for journalism, according to Rebecca Vincent, Director of Operations and Campaign at Reporters Without Borders.