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Closed 28/10/2022

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£15,264
raised of £100,000 target by 491 supporters

    Weʼve raised £15,264 to fight Ware v French libel action

    London
    Funded on Friday, 28th October 2022

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    Story

    The following statement was posted today (30 November 2022):

    Today judgment was handed down in the Ware v French libel case. 

    John Ware sued Press Gang editor Paddy French for £50,000 damages over his criticism of the 2019 Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”

    French withdrew from the case and did not take part in the trial which lasted an hour and 20 minutes on November 7.

    Mr Justice Knowles awarded John Ware £90,000 in aggravated damages.

    The judge also granted Ware a permanent injunction:

    "The Defendant must not, whether acting by himself or otherwise howsoever, publish or cause to be published any words to the following or similar effect: that the Claimant is a rogue journalist who had 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."

    Ware had told the court that French “had ‘thrown down the gauntlet’, which he would have been only too happy to have picked up, but, he said, the defendant had now ‘slithered away’ and behaved in a ‘cowardly’ fashion.” 

    Mr Justice Knowles said he agreed with John Ware’s KC, William Bennett, that French’s “attitude to these proceedings … had been one of contempt”.

    Paddy French said:

    "This case raises serious questions about press freedom in Britain."

    "I believe I am the first journalist to be sued by a reporter working for the BBC for criticising a BBC programme that that reporter was involved in making." 

    "I am concerned that the Director General and the BBC board appear to have allowed the case to go ahead. "

    "This raises the question of whether Ware v French is a SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) action by proxy in order to smother debate about this controversial programme."

    If it is, then it sets a dangerous precedent — Britain’s state broadcaster is permitting its reporters to engage in litigation against the Corporation’s critics."

    "If the action was not a SLAPP, it was certainly a breach of the long-standing tradition in the UK that journalists do not sue other journalists."

    "Journalists have other public platforms besides the courts to argue their case — and John Ware can command space in national newspapers when he chooses."

    "I am naturally disappointed that the case has ended in the way it did."

    "I would like to thank my legal team and the large number of people who have supported me in contesting it."

    "The judgment does not end the continuing examination of the Panorama programme."

    "I’m pleased that John Ware and his team have acknowledged that I am free to continue investigating the Panorama broadcast."

    "The full report on this programme will be published next year."

    PREVIOUS

    The following statement was posted this morning (28 October 2022):

    JOHN WARE v PADDY FRENCH (QB - 2020 - 002233)

    STATEMENT

    IN DECEMBER 2019 I published the Press Gang pamphlet “Is The BBC Anti-Labour? Panorama’s Biased Anti-Semitism Reporting — A Case To Answer”. 

    This was a detailed critique of the Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” based on a “charge sheet” that found the broadcast had breached key BBC Editorial Guidelines. 

    Six months later John Ware began defamation proceedings against the pamphlet.

    At that point I believed the case was an opportunity for a forensic examination of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party while Jeremy Corbyn was leader. 

    However, John Ware then withdrew his complaint against the “charge sheet” element and concentrated on an article included at the end of the pamphlet. 

    And, in February 2021, Mr Justice Saini ruled that this article meant that John Ware was a rogue journalist who engaged in “dirty tricks” by presenting “a biased and knowingly false presentation of the extent and nature of anti-Semitism within the party, deliberately ignoring contrary evidence” in order to harm Labour’s electoral prospects.

    This was not my intention — my concern was about the quality of the journalism. I argued that Ware had authored and presented an edition of Panorama that was one-sided and strongly advocated the position that Labour was anti-Semitic. This was, in my opinion, rogue journalism.

    But as a result of the court’s ruling I was not permitted to defend the case on this basis and could not present evidence that the broadcast was one-sided.

    However, much of the material I had hoped to explore in court has now been published elsewhere. 

    In April 2020 Labour’s internal report into the workings of the party’s Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) was leaked to Sky News.

    This long report supported the thesis set out in the pamphlet.

    Sir Keir Starmer, who replaced Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, ordered an independent inquiry into the serious allegations made in the leaked GLU report.

    Headed by Martin Forde KC, this report was published in July this year. 

    Again, the Forde Report supported the general critique of the pamphlet.

    Finally, the revelations of the Al Jazeera series “The Labour Files” in September this year provided further evidence that the Panorama programme was one-sided.

    These developments mean that Ware v French has become less and less relevant. As a result, I have decided to withdraw from the case and will take no further part in the proceedings.

    I will now concentrate on producing a full report into the Panorama programme.

    This report will include new material that has yet to see the light of day. 

    I want to thank all those — including my legal team at Bindmans and barristers Hugh Tomlinson, KC and Darryl Hutcheon — who have supported me in this case over the past two and a half years. 

    And to all who contributed to the crowdfunder, a grateful thanks.

    Paddy French |. Editor |. Press Gang

    Updates

    2

    • E M  FRENCH1 month ago
      E M  FRENCH

      E M FRENCH

      1 month ago

      A statement on the case has been added to the main page.

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    • E M  FRENCH1 month ago
      E M  FRENCH

      E M FRENCH

      1 month ago

      There have been developments in this case. I am now representing myself as a litigant in person. A full statement will be made tomorrow.

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    1 year ago

    E M FRENCH started crowdfunding

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    Page last updated on: 10/28/2022 08.45

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    491

    • Anonymous

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      Oct 14, 2022

    • David Kirby

      David Kirby

      Oct 14, 2022

      The idea that those who oppose apartheid in the Middle East are acting because they are racists is a disgusting and disturbing distortion.

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      Oct 13, 2022

      Good luck.

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    E M  FRENCH

    E M FRENCH

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    Paddy French is the editor of the investigative website Press Gang. He's a retired ITV Wales current affairs producer.

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