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Saturday 4 May 2019

The Shameful Silencing Of Mike Sivier

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may have heard of Mike Sivier, who is better known as Mid Wales Mike. He writes the Vox Political blog, and his usual beat includes highlighting the injustices faced by the less well off including the callousness of the DWP, cronyism, environmental concerns including climate change, health, the Labour Party, Brexit, and the appalling ineptitude of the Tory Party.
Mike Sivier aka Mid Wales Mike

Mike has also been the target of several publications attempting to smear him as a purveyor of anti-Semitism, which he is not. As a result of his tireless work, those papers and magazines have all been instructed - eventually - by IPSO to issue corrections, to confirm that Mike isn’t peddling anti-Semitism, something they knew all along.

But then Mike commented on the interaction between two minor Slebs and a young Labour activist, and all hell broke loose. That was because the two Slebs were Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley, and actor Tracy-Ann Oberman. They have now threatened legal action against Sivier. He is not as wealthy as they are, and as a result has had to crowdfund his defence costs. The initial target was met in just one day.

Whether that is a measure of his popularity, or a sign of disapproval at the behaviour of Ms Riley and Ms Oberman, I will leave to others to decide. But the action does come hard on the heels of threats issued on behalf of the two women against several users of social media platform Twitter for apparently endorsing a similar article written by independent journalist Shaun Lawson. But no threat has been made against Lawson personally.
Rachel Riley

Why should this be? Perhaps Ms Riley and Ms Oberman would care, in the fullness of time, to impart that information to the world. Perhaps they would also like to tell Mike Sivier, or his legal team, what specifically he has said in regard to either or both of them which they consider libellous. Because Sivier does not appear fazed by the claim, and nor do his lawyers, which suggests they are confident of having the action struck out.

What appears to have set the Sleb pair off are comments from Sivier like this one: “I know them as a pair of Twitter bullies who harassed and intimidated a teenage girl who suffers extreme anxiety”. When he wrote his article, “they threatened to sue me for libel, claiming that they did not behave in the ways I stated and that I had caused serious damage to their reputations”. By expressing his opinion? Because that’s effectively all he has done.
Tracy-Ann Oberman

More disturbing is Sivier’s observation “Perhaps worst of all is the fact that Ms Riley and Ms Oberman justify their behaviour by saying it is part of the fight against anti-Semitism”. They do? How can anyone be combating anti-Semitism by threatening someone who concludes that you’ve been indulging in bullying? Is bullying an anti-Semitic code-word?

The problem for Sivier’s accusers is that this looks very much like his interpretation of a series of events versus theirs. Two opinions against one? Ah, but Shaun Lawson said something very similar, and in any case he has not been threatened. It does seem that Lawson’s evidence will be key. In the meantime, I have one observation to make.

Attacking those who campaign for the weak against the strong in an attempt to silence them inevitably leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Mike Sivier said...

I'm not sure your headline is entirely accurate as nobody could say I've been silenced!

That said, your support is appreciated - and may I encourage your readers to support my CrowdJustice site. It's true that the initial target was reached in a single day but I'm now trying to reach the "stretch" target of £25,000 - itself just a fraction of what will be needed if this case ever goes to court.

It isn't just a matter of their opinion against mine. My defence is based on the facts as they were presented on Twitter (and remain available for all to see) and the public interest inherent in presenting those facts about these people to a public who may otherwise be influenced by their claims. Opinion does have a bearing on the case, but it is my genuinely-held opinion, based on the facts available.

The personalities concerned have presented no evidence to support a claim of libel, which demands proof that their reputation was harmed.

In normal circumstances the case would never get anywhere near a court.

Mark said...

Very best of luck Mike. I fail to see how this is a case of libel when, as you say, the facts are readily available. IIRC, Lawson's article merely reprints the tweets TAO continued to send to the teenager, despite being asked to desist. When the evidence stacks up like that, how can anyone say that someone is wilfully setting out to harm their reputation?

Anonymous said...

I really hope this makes it to court - the public need to know the way these 'celebrities' operate and who's writing the script. Good luck Mike.

Big Rig said...

Isn't Lawson not being sued because he resides in Uruguay? I know Oberman mentioned him, by name, on radio four a while back and he sought advice.
God, I wouldn't be able to take a day of the abuse they get every hour but I think they've lost perspective

Anonymous said...

Well turns out a judge thinks differently!