When Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, rocked up on my doorstep in the dead of night last year, he claimed it was because I had “written lies” about him. He objected to being called a racist. The problem for Lennon with this allegation was twofold: one, that I could very easily back up my assertion, and two, that this was in any case my opinion, to which I was entitled. He confused opinion with fact.
His opinion is that he is not a racist, and that is fair enough, but it still does not make his claim a fact. Lennon’s difficulty telling opinion from facts was therefore well established before he made the rash decision to take legal action against Sky News for the heinous crime of giving him a platform for his views. And no, I am not making this up.
Lennon was interviewed at some length by Jason Farrell. Sky News broadcast an edited version of the interview; the channel also made the unedited version available to Lennon. His team also videoed the interview process. This allowed him, after the edited interview was broadcast, to claim that Sky had stitched him up, that he was once more the victim of “Fake News”. This duly fired up his followers. But he was not content with that.
After appearing to shrug off inconvenient opposing thought yesterday, telling his followers “I learned a long time ago to not worry about what people call you and instead just say what needs to be said”, the mood changed and he decided he would sue.
“I will be taking Sky News and @JasonFarrellSky to court for Libel. They have spread false headlines across the world. Changing the words, I said in the interview to give a different context and even taking an answer I gave to a completely different question and editing it directly after a voice over where they portray to the viewers they had asked me a completely different question!” And there was more.
“Even if you do not support me, you need to watch this video to see how the media manipulate you! This is a disgrace and you MUST SHARE #Fakenews #Propaganda #EnemyOfThePeople”. Ri-i-i-i-ight. Let’s take this one nice and slowly.
One, Lennon would have to show that what Sky News published was factually wrong - not just wrong in his opinion. A court of law is most unlikely to hear him calling “liar” on Sky News and nod in agreement. He would have to demonstrate, conclusively, that what they did was wrong, and that there was intent to defame.
Two, a significant part of this concerns Lennon’s reputation. The problem here is that, with a string of convictions and a well-documented history of violent thuggery, it is likely that any court would conclude that he does not have a reputation worth damaging.
Three, he may encounter some difficulty in getting a lawyer willing to take his case - not without him, or someone on his behalf, ponying up a substantial sum of money first.
And Four, as Sky News would no doubt also claim a fair comment defence, as well as pointing out that Lennon’s opinion does not equal fact, there would be only one outcome.
And that would see Stephen Lennon and his lawyers referred to the precedent legal case of Arkell versus Pressdram 1971. I’ll just leave that one there.
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