Help Jane Heybroek defend a defamation action

by Jane Heybroek

Help Jane Heybroek defend a defamation action

by Jane Heybroek
Jane Heybroek
Case Owner
I am Jane Heybroek, a Buddhist barrister, and I dedicate my life to peacebuilding and social justice.
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pledged of £65,000 stretch target from 1,304 pledges
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Jane Heybroek
Case Owner
I am Jane Heybroek, a Buddhist barrister, and I dedicate my life to peacebuilding and social justice.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Feb. 28, 2020

We've been warned!

Good evening, fantastic followers and super supporters.

Well, after what seemed like a long time to-ing and fro-ing, we actually now have what is called a "warned date" for the preliminary h…

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On 14th November 2019 I was served with a High Court defamation claim by television presenter Rachel Riley and actress Tracy-Ann Oberman.

The Claimants are seeking damages and costs in respect of a retweet containing a link to an article (which I subsequently deleted).  The article, by blogger Shaun Lawson (which concerned the Claimants’ alleged behaviour towards a teenage Labour supporter on Twitter in January 2019), was re-tweeted by hundreds of other people, but for reasons best known to the Claimants, I am the only person being sued for a retweet.

PLEASE NOTE: it is very important that, if you are aware of the subject-matter of the article, you do not comment about it, as it may leave you exposed to legal action yourself.  

I have been defending the claims (initially pre-action) since May and, thus far, have been paying my solicitors and Counsel through my own savings.  At time of writing I have spent almost £30,000, and, as with all defamation claims, the costs are set to increase significantly.  I am thus launching a fundraiser.  The initial sum I am seeking to raise is £65,000 to cover costs of the likely preliminary hearing(s).  I may have to extend the crowdfund, depending on how things progress.  I would be incredibly grateful for even the smallest token of support.

Funds raised in this crowdfunder shall be used solely for my legal expenses in the case. If I lose the case and damages are awarded to the claimants, I shall be personally liable for those.

Finally, there are a lot of very deserving causes out there, and I know this is an expensive time of year for people, so I fully understand that many people will not be in a position to help. I am launching this crowdfund because some people have very kindly offered to help, and encouraged me to do this, for which I am enormously grateful. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and best wishes for the festive season.

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Update 8

Jane Heybroek

Feb. 28, 2020

We've been warned!

Good evening, fantastic followers and super supporters.

Well, after what seemed like a long time to-ing and fro-ing, we actually now have what is called a "warned date" for the preliminary hearing.  We have been informed by the Court that we are in a warned list for week commencing 23rd March. 

What is a warned list, I hear you cry? It is, effectively, like being on the reserve bench. We are to be ready that week in the eventuality that a listed hearing is adjourned, or goes short, so that we can be slotted in. 

Needless to say, this has presented me with a bit of a quandary.  Many people might not know that barristers are self-employed.  As such, I only get paid for the work I do.  I have no holiday pay, sick pay, etc., and cannot afford to take a week off just on the off-chance that my hearing might possibly happen, so the chances are I might not even get to this hearing.  But my team at Brett Wilson are absolutely brilliant and I know they will do a great job, whether I am there or not. 

The hearing is what is known as a "Meanings Hearing" - to establish which aspects of  the article I retweeted are opinion and, thus, not actionable, and which aspects are statements of fact, which are actionable.  It is useful to narrow the issues down early on, before my formal defence is filed, so everyone knows exactly what we are dealing with. 

In the mean time, I am also having a bit of a to-ing and fro-ing with Twitter who say they cannot tell me anything about my deleted tweet - when it was deleted, how many impressions it got, etc., My understanding is that they probably can interrogate their systems and find that information, but it seems they are not willing to do that without a court order. 

I am so very, very grateful to everyone who has supported me thus far.  I must say again, if you are on a low wage or on benefits, I really do not want you to donate any money, but you can help by:

- Retweeting

- Sharing on Facebook and other social media platforms

- Emailing or speaking to friends and family who you think might want to support me. 

You have all been so amazing.  Your messages of encouragemnt are what keeps me going.  

Thank you all so much, and have a fantastic weekend!

Jane x

Update 7

Jane Heybroek

Feb. 9, 2020

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Dear Friends

I want to give a huge shout out to friends on Twitter who have been retweeting my CrowdJustice page while I have been uncharacteristically quiet on social media.  I have just noticed that the last time I updated all my supporters was 21st January, and I am sorry for not keeping everyone in the loop, but it has been quite a hectic period.  

I was looking forward to Saturday 25th January as the start of a series of public meetings in our local library about the basics of Buddhism, followed by a week of study leave to allow me to finally complete my MA in Reconciliation and Peacebuilding (the final drafting of my dissertation was "to the wire" as everything is in my life, but 6 whole days would be plenty of time, right?).

Disaster struck when my son woke me that morning in extreme pain and a state of absolute panic, unable to breathe. He is 24, and is on the autistic spectrum and suffers from anxiety - probably the main reason I can identify and empathise with the family of the young woman who was the subject of the article, because I have first-hand knowledge of what it is like to struggle as your child suffers with their mental health and have little or no assistance available. 

My son's left lung had completely collapsed and he was blue-lighted to East Surrey Hospital within minutes of the ambulance's arrival. I am eternally grateful to the amazing NHS staff who cared for him with such devotion.

I don't begrudge a moment spent at my son's bedside and, although there were complications to begin with - the tear was bigger than originally thought, and the lung would not reinflate for days - he was eventually well enough to be discharged last Wednesday (although there have been one or two blips since, including a rush back to A & E on Thursday, a probably small hole in his other lung, and me bringing home the lovely gift of a nasty cough that turned into a vomitting bug that laid me out for two days!) It has been a grim time, but we are now out of the woods, although I have aged 10 years in a fortnight!

All the while this was going on, some of my friends were aware that the last thing on my mind was my CrowdJustice campaign, and, quite spontaneously, kept it going for me.  There are a great many of you I need to thank for doing this, and I hope I have done so privately, but if I have somehow missed you, let me take this opportunity to thank you truly from the bottom of my heart for your continued support. 

We still have a long way to go. The legal process is exceedingly long and tedious - and expensive - as so much goes on behind the scenes before even the first preliminary hearings can happen. 

Without you stepping up to the plate with me, I would have to throw in the towel. Contrary to popular belief - as anyone who has read The Secret Barrister will know - we are not all rolling in money.  True, I am not on the breadline either.  But I could not afford to continue to defend this case without your help.  

Once again, I know there are a great many worthy causes out there, and I am grateful for every bit of assistance. Many people will realise, however, why it is necessary to defend myself in this.

You are amazing, every one of you.

Thank you!

Please don't forget - if you cannot help financially, or have already donated, you can help further by:

- Sharing my CrowdJustice fund on social media 

- Emailing any friends or family you believe might be interested in helping.

As you know, I am not just doing this for me. 

Best wishes to you all

Jane x

PS: as to the dissertation, it is still not finished, and I am currently begging the University for leniency and an extension on the basis of extenuating circumstances. I will keep you posted.

Update 6

Jane Heybroek

Jan. 21, 2020

Well, that was a relief!!

I was very worried at the end of last week that my CrowdJustice fund was coming to an end, but fortunately I was emailed to ask if I wanted to continue. As you can imagine, that has come as a huge relief. 

I am so grateful for everything you have already done. Your support has been so awesome.  Thank you so much for being shoulder to shoulder with me on this journey. 

Please remember to share on Facebook, on Twitter, or to email any friends you think might be able to donate. 

Please also remember that I only want people to donate if they can afford to do so.  If you are on a low wage or struggling, please just share instead of donating.

Have a great day!

Jane x

Update 5

Jane Heybroek

Jan. 11, 2020

The Reluctant Crowdfunder!

Dear Friends

I am so, so grateful to every one of you who has contributed and shared my CrowdJustice page.  The solidarity has been overwhelming, and I have received such great messages of support.

Thank you, every single one of you, for stepping up to the plate with me on this.  It is something I never would have thought I would have to do, and knowing you are there with me is a huge comfort, and has been a huge relief.

And - aside from having a busy week back at work after the Christmas break -  I guess I have been a bit quiet about it this week because asking other people for money really is something that goes against everything I believe in.  

I don't come from the usual background of people at the Bar, as anyone who has googled me will probably have spotted by now. I am "Ms. Liz Probert", not "Phyllida Erskine-Brown" - "Martha Costello", not "Caroline Warwick".

I know what it is like to be skint, and I really cannot stress any more strongly that if you are struggling to make ends meet, I do not want you to donate.

But maybe you know people who have a spare bob or two, and might be motivated to support me in this.  So, please, if you feel you are able:
- Retweet 
- Share on Facebook
- Email your friends

I am aiming for a stretch target that will cover the costs a variety of paper-based work and investigations as well as a preliminary hearing. My rather measly pension pot and my savings have already been spent on this. And the reason I set it up as a CrowdJustice fund rather than as a general crowdfunder is so you can be certain of where you money goes - to the legal defence. 

Thank you all, once again, for your kindness, compassion and solidarity.  

Onwards and upwards!

Jane x

Update 4

Jane Heybroek

Jan. 3, 2020

The Usual Caveat Applies....

Good evening, lovely supporters. 

Any of you who follow me regularly on Twitter will know that, as I like to have a glass or two on Friday night, I always put out a warning that nothing I say will make any sense any more. 

So, Friday night, two Old Speckled Hens in and... the usual caveat applies. Except this time, I hope you will understand why this makes sense.

I wanted, again, to thank all of you who have donated thus far.  You are amazing and, as I have said before, there are many, many more worthy causes. 

So why am I doing this? Well, it is because I know what happened. I have watched and, to an extent, been involved in the fall-out that resulted from two very famous people with a large following deciding to act the way they did. 

I cannot go into more detail because I don't want to cause anyone any harm. But I need to defend this for many, many reasons. 

So, once again, thank you for stepping up to the plate with me.  Please circulate to your friends and contacts as much as you can.  

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and, I hope, a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year

Jane x
Update 3

Jane Heybroek

Dec. 31, 2019

Wishing you Peace and Prosperity in 2020

Good morning!

And a Happy New Year to you all!

I am not sure if you are like me, but while I am glad to see the back of 2019, under a Johnson government I am also worried about what 2020 will hold. We are already seeing disturbing signs of a sharp rise in intolerance, hatred and bigotry since the General Election. We have a struggle ahead to protect each other from the worst excesses which are yet to come.

Thank you, all of you, once again for your continued support over the holiday period. Many have been asking about where I am in the process.  The next stage is to file a defence, following which a "meanings hearing" will be listed, which is a preliminary hearing to pinpoint exactly the nature of the claim. 

£65,000 seems an awful lot of money - it is - but that is a rough estimate of what my costs are likely to be through to the meanings hearing itself.  

That is why your support is so valuable, and why I am so very grateful to anyone who can help at all, even if it is only £2. 

I know that many, many people are also struggling to make ends meet too, though, so please help by sharing this CrowdJustice fund on Twitter, Facebook, any other social media you use, and by email if you know someone who might be able to help.

Very best wishes to you all for a Peaceful and Prosperous 2020

Jane x

Update 2

Jane Heybroek

Dec. 28, 2019

2020 rushes towards us like a speeding train!

Dear Supporters and Friends

I hope you all had an lovely Christmas, Hannukah, Winter Solstice - or simply enjoyed the festive season in your own way.  I know that it can be a very difficult time of year for a lot of people, too, so I expect many of you are glad it is over and looking forward to a New Year, and the nights getting shorter into the spring.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this CrowdJustice fund thus far. I really am very grateful, and quite overwhelmed by the level of support I have received. For those of you who have donated via Twitter, I hope I have managed to thank you personally there, too.

Secondly - and this is important to me - if you are struggling on minimum wage, zero hours contacts or benefits, please DO NOT donate.  It goes against everything I believe in to have to do this crowdfund at all, but - as many of you will know - it is also very important that this case is defended. 

If you have already donated - or if you cannot afford to donate, you can still help immensely by:
  • Sharing on Social Media
  • Emailing friends and contacts
  • Speaking to people you know who might be interested in helping

Wishing you all a Peaceful and Prosperous 2020!

Jane x

Update 1

Jane Heybroek

Dec. 23, 2019

Such amazing support! Thank you!

Dear Friends,

I cannot believe I have woken up to over £10,400 pledged in the first 60 hours of this campaign.  You are all so amazing!

Most of you already know why it is so very important that I "step up to the plate" in this. Thank you, each and every one of you, for stepping up with me. And thank you for all your messages of support.  Together, we can do this. 

As you can see, we still have a way to go yet, so to all my supporters, I have a favour to ask you. Please:

  • Talk to your friends and family
  • Share the link on social media
  • Think of five people you could email who might be able to help
But most of all - have a very Merry Christmas! I cannot find the words to express how grateful I am.

Jane x

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