These are less than happy times for Arron Banks, the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit”, who eventually found a shilling for his legal meter - or maybe a pal found one for him - only to find that the path of defamation action does not always run smooth. Because his target has calmly raised him, and if he’s not careful, will see him. Holding a busted flush.
Banksy had decided to continue his campaign of gratuitous aggression against the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr by suing her. This move was so private and confidential that it was immediately leaked to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. The Fawkes folks were quite sure who was in the right.
“Last month Arron Banks warned Carole Cadwalladr that he was initiating libel action against her over her claims that he had a ‘covert relationship’ with and had been offered money by the Russian Government. Over 14 days have passed and Carole has failed to respond – Banks has now formally initiated proceedings in the High Court. Banks insists that there is no truth to her claims whatsoever, and he’s had enough”. Do go on.
“Banks is suing Carole on two grounds over two separate speeches she made, Carole’s claims are expected to be giving another airing in an upcoming Netflix documentary called The Great Hack. If Netflix repeat the claim Banks will, according to Andy Wigmore, be suing them too”. Sadly, there was a problem with this claim.
And that is that it is not Banksy who has had enough, but Ms Cadwalladr, who has signalled her intention to counter-sue Banks - for harassment. As she told the Daily Beast, “This is such an abuse of the law by Arron Banks. He’s not suing TED. He’s not suing the Observer or the Guardian. He’s a bully who’s targeting me as an individual to harass and intimidate me and prevent me from doing journalism, a course of behaviour that has been going on for more than two years”. The article confirms her assertions.
“Cadwalladr’s exposés of Cambridge Analytica and their alleged links to Banks and his Leave.EU campaign have appeared in the Observer and the Guardian newspapers. Multiple media outlets have also reported on Banks’ relationship with Russian officials, including the Russian ambassador in London. Banks and his team have not sued over those stories”. And the defence she intends to deploy against Banks?
“Cadwalladr says she will use the defence that her statements were true”. She goes on to say “I think people can see exactly what’s going on here. It’s an attack on journalism by a man whose millions are now the subject of a criminal investigation. I can see why he’s touchy about me talking about his relationship with the Russian government, though. I would be too if I’d gone to the lengths he has to conceal it”. Quite.
The problem Banksy has now is that if he pulls the trigger, someone else takes the same action against him. So, as Harry Callahan might have said, he has to ask himself one question - does he feel lucky? Well, do you, Banksy?
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Ol Aaron better have deep pockets cos he's going to find himself coughing up a lot of money for Carol's m'learned friends.
Ol Aaron is going to find it difficult to shake off the DCMS findings that he and Wiggy were a wee bit economical with the truth.
Will Arron Banks be able to take a defamation/libel case to court while the National Crime Agency are investigating the same allegations?
Or conversely (and Machiavellian) has Banks started litigation so that the NCA has to wait for the conclusion of the libel try?
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