Today, judgment has been handed down in the controversial case of Cadwalladr versus Banks. Arron Banks has lost his libel action against investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr in a significant victory for public interest journalism.
Mr Banks, founder of the pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU, sued Ms Cadwalladr for defamation over two instances in 2019. The first was during a TED Talk, when Ms Cadwalladr declared ‘And I am not even going to get into the lies that Arron Banks has told about his covert relationship with the Russian Government.’ The second was a tweet, published in response to Banks’s initial defamation claim, which was ruled out at the beginning of proceedings for not reaching the threshold to press charges.
It therefore remained for Ms Cadwalladr to defend what she had said in her TED Talk. She sought to establish that it was in the public interest for her to make the allegation that she did, that it was reasonable for her to believe that she should have spoken those words, and that they were important. She explained that she had intended to indicate that Mr Banks had lied about his meeting with the Russian Embassy, that this was significant, and that there should be further investigation into Brexit funding and Russian ties.
The court found that the TED Talk has caused serious harm to Mr Bank’s reputation, but concluded that it was ‘political expression of high importance, and great public interest’. Arron Banks has therefore lost his libel case, and will be obliged to pay all of the costs – both his own and Ms Cadwalladr’s, which will run into the millions.
Tamsin Allen, Head of our Media and Information team who represented Ms Cadwalladr from 2019-21, comments:
This is a resounding victory for serious journalism. The judgment is clear that Carole’s reporting was in the public interest at the time – that it was reasonable for her to believe the allegations about Banks ought to be made public. That matters. Not only for the parties, but for reporting in this most divisive of areas.
Read our detailed explanation and analysis of the judgment here.