Support me against Arron Banks

by Carole Cadwalladr

Support me against Arron Banks

by Carole Cadwalladr
Carole Cadwalladr
Case Owner
Carole Cadwalladr is a writer and reporter for the Guardian & Observer. In 2019, she was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for her work on Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal with the staff of the NYT
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Carole Cadwalladr
Case Owner
Carole Cadwalladr is a writer and reporter for the Guardian & Observer. In 2019, she was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for her work on Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal with the staff of the NYT
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Latest: May 23, 2023

Update

Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled that I should pay 60% of Arron Banks’s trial costs and one third of his appeal costs. 

Mrs Justice Steyn spent months examining the evidence and found t…

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In November 2016, I began reporting on dark money, data and disinformation for a series of articles that have appeared in the Observer, Guardian & New York Times. The Cambridge Analytica story kicked off a global scandal and multiple investigations including the FTC’s biggest fine ever - $5 billion - against Facebook.

In March last year, I gave a TED talk and in response Arron Banks, who funded Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign, has brought libel proceedings against me. I’m now preparing the next stage of my legal fight.

Today we can reveal Banks has dropped two of his claims but he is persisting in two others, the TED talk and a tweet about it. I don’t have the financial backing of any media organisation. And I have no choice but to fight what press freedom organisations have called a chilling “abuse of law” to “silence a journalist”. 

He’s targeting me as an individual I believe to deliberately intimidate me but I’m fighting back and intend to work with my legal team to build the strongest defence possible.

Please would you consider making a contribution towards my legal costs so that I can keep going against Arron Banks's deep pockets? And please share this page with all your friends, your family, and your social media contacts.

Thanks to the generosity of more than 10,000 people I have already raised more than £300,000. I’m ringfencing that money for now to pay Banks’s legal costs if necessary. All of it will go to funding more investigation and journalism I hope. But I’m launching this new crowdfunder to contribute toward my own current legal costs.

For more details about the case and the response of international press freedom organisations, please read this.

How much am I raising and why? 

Most people in my position wouldn’t be able to stand up to this kind of action for fear being forced to pay the other side’s legal costs. I’ve been enormously lucky to have the support of people to enable me to go up against a multi-millionaire. 

But this isn’t only about cost protection. I also need a strong legal team to take on this fight.  My lawyers are currently drafting my defence to the claim, the crucial next step. 

And I’m now seeking to raise funds through CrowdJustice specifically to pay for this. My lawyers, Bindmans LLP, together with Gavin Millar QC and Ben Silverstone at Matrix Chambers, have agreed to work at significantly reduced rates and I am seeking to raise £50,000 for this crucial next stage in defending the claim against Arron Banks and his well funded legal team.

All funds will be transferred directly to my legal team at Bindmans LLP and of course I’ll keep you updated on progress throughout the case. 

Thank you for any support you can provide - it means a huge amount.

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Update 3

Carole Cadwalladr

May 23, 2023

Update

Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled that I should pay 60% of Arron Banks’s trial costs and one third of his appeal costs. 

Mrs Justice Steyn spent months examining the evidence and found that the talk was clearly in the public interest and therefore lawful at the time I delivered it. That was not challenged in the Court of Appeal. It accepted that I won on the issue that “absorbed most of the time and money”. 

And yet, this ruling means that I will pay a large part of Banks’s costs and sets a terrible and chilling precedent for UK journalism. It shows that the public interest defence - on which journalists rely when publishing challenging stories - doesn’t actually work. Even if you fight for years and successfully establish that your journalism was in the public interest you can still face crippling costs. 

So, following a meeting with my legal team today, we have decided to appeal it.  I will seek permission from the Court of Appeal to Appeal to the Supreme Court, or if that fails we can apply for permission from the Supreme Court. And if that fails, we believe we have a strong case to take it before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  

The European Convention on Human Rights puts an obligation on member states to ensure freedom of expression. We believe that this ruling violates that right. There is no meaningful freedom of expression - or the press - in this country if a reporter can successfully defend her reporting but still face an enormous bill because of something that happened months or even years after publication.

Donations to this CrowdJustice will go toward paying for the legal costs of continuing this fight. These funds will be used to put toward my own legal costs, both to date and to continue to challenge this. 

Thank you 

 I was shocked and bewildered by the court’s decision last week. But I’ve been enormously grateful - once again -  for the overwhelming number of both private and public messages of support. And the ongoing donations to this crowdfunder.

I spoke to Press Gazette about why I shouldn’t have had to face this alone. But I have. And without this support from you, the public, it simply wouldn’t have been possible to defend myself. The comment piece from editor, Dominic Ponsford, explains why this case matters for all journalists and news organisations. But if the Supreme Court gives us permission to fight it, it will be another costly and time-consuming process. As would going to the European Court of Human Rights.

But this case is now about a far bigger issue than just my reporting on Banks. It has far-reaching ramifications for the rest of the British media. I’ve been part of a long-running campaign to reform Britain’s defamation laws - which the UK government has committed to do - and this ruling has again proved why this is a matter of urgency. Our laws are simply not fit for purpose. Every day, stories on abuses of power are spiked because of legal threats. This ruling will mean even more critical reporting will never see the light of day.

Continued publication

I want to highlight a technical point that is key to concerns about how this case will stifle reporting. The court of appeal found for Banks on one point only: it ruled that when the police concluded its investigation into him a year after I gave the talk, the public interest defence fell away. The court ruled that a notional 100,000 people in the UK saw the talk after this point and it held me liable for those views even though it acknowledged that I did not control TED’s website. 

My legal team

I have been enormously privileged and lucky to have been represented on a conditional fee arrangement by Keith Mathieson and Thomas Otter at RPC and Gavin Millar KC and Aidan Wills at Matrix Chambers. They took a generous risk in doing so and I’m hoping that I will also be able to contribute from here to their fees if I can. 

Update 2

Carole Cadwalladr

Feb. 4, 2021

Case update

A huge thank you to everyone who's contributed to this crowdfunder. Financially-speaking, I literally wouldn't be able to do this without you. But it's also been hugely important to me in terms of moral support. Thank you. I just wanted to update you with the latest in the case. 

The next hearing in my case will be in May 2021. This is a procedural hearing only but it will set the stage for the trial, probably at the end of 2021 or at the beginning of 2022. In the meantime, my defence of the case has changed. In November there was a further hearing to clarify what, in law, my TED talk meant.

Following this hearing I dropped two out of my three defences – that of limitation and truth. The defence that is left is legally the strongest – that the subject of the TED talk was incredibly important and it is in the public interest that this speech was made.

What does this mean? That Banks is still pursuing this case intently, despite having earlier dropped part of his case against me.

Thanks to your help, I can continue to defend my journalism from this attack. Stay safe!

Update 1

Carole Cadwalladr

Feb. 6, 2020

Thank You!

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to this crowdfunder. I've been astonished at the response and it's incredibly reassuring to know that I have such support in this fight against Arron Banks. 

Last month, I announced that Banks has dropped two of the four claims against me. But he continues with the other two - he claims that I libelled him in my TED talk and a follow-up tweet. Last Friday, my legal team filed our defence. This is required by court and it sets all the reasons why we believe that I was justified to say the things that I did. 

We're defending his claim on three grounds: 1) Limitation. I levelled the same accusations against Banks in the Guardian, on the BBC, and on Twitter more than a year earlier. He never took action against me or the BBC or Guardian then or made any attempt to correct the record, and libel cases time out after a year so he's out of time. 2) Truth. What I said was true and we can prove it. 3) Public interest. This is a subject of profound public interest and as such my right to responsibly report on these issues is protected speech. 

Our documents have been filed with the court and can be obtained by journalists via the Royal Courts of Justice  office. 

THANK YOU again. I literally could not do this without the help and support of the public. More updates soon. xx

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