Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Saturday 25 April 2020

Rachel Riley Judgment - Possible Contempt

After Zelo Street pondered yesterday how the judgment handed down yesterday as part of a continuing defamation action brought by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley against Labour Party staffer Laura Murray came to be featured in a Mail Online article more than 24 hours before its official time of release, Mike Sivier of Vox Political fame provided an answer - as well as bad news for whoever leaked the information.
Rachel Riley

As is made clear in the publicly available version of the judgment, Mr Justice Nicklin handed it down at 1000 hours yesterday. Mail Online’s piece was time stamped 0621 hours the previous day. A “News Alert” from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog was timed at 1248 hours that day.

So how did the information get out there before it was handed down? Ah well. As Sivier has pointed out, the judgment was a reserved one, and Mr Justice Nicklin would have had it ready beforehand (final submissions to him had been made on April 7). He would then have sent a draft of the judgment to the parties, those being the legal teams representing Ms Riley (Patron Law) and Ms Murray (Howe & Co).

There are strict rules on what can, and more importantly, cannot be done with those draft copies. Here’s the wording. “A copy of the draft judgment may be supplied, in confidence, to the parties provided that - (a) neither the draft judgment nor its substance is disclosed to any other person or used in the public domain; and (b) no action is taken (other than internally) in response to the draft judgment, before the judgment is handed down”.

Looks like someone bust (a) pretty comprehensively. So what is the sanction for that kind of breach? “Any breach of the obligations or restrictions under paragraph 2.4 or failure to take all reasonable steps under paragraph 2.6 may be treated as contempt of court”. Paragraph 2.4 is the part that got breached. That’s most unfortunate.
So who may have been in contempt of court? The tone of the Mail Online article, and indeed of the Guido Fawkes “News Alert”, is of Ms Riley achieving a victory. The idea of Laura Murray, or anyone on her behalf, leaking to the press to benefit her opponent is for the birds. There is no credible reason for her side to have been behind the breach.

On the other hand, there is every reason for someone on Ms Riley’s side to have done it. Who might Mr Justice Nicklin be wishing to lightly grill, then? One would expect Ms Riley to not only know all about talking to the press, but also all about those occasions when one should not talk to the press. And this comes in the second category.

What about her lawyer, Mark Lewis? He may not be involved, and I have no doubt that, were I to make the accusation and it to prove wrong, he would be going after me with every legal instrument at his disposal. So I do not thus accuse.

But the fact remains that Mail Online published, because someone gave them the information. And that “may be treated as contempt of court”. So Mr Justice Nicklin, or someone on his behalf, should be grilling the Mail. And sooner rather than later.

And I’m sure all parties concerned will give any investigation their fullest cooperation.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at



The Toffee (597) said...

Shame isobel oakshit didn't get the 'scoop', we'd now know who leaked it as she'd have gladly bubbled her source immediately, the snivelling little grass.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Probably a fair comment.

Except certain bods with Momentumist tendencies have a track record on leaking.

There are many ways to skin a cat.

Anonymous said...

Momentumist tendencies?

That's quite the dead cat you've put on the table there yourself Malcolm.

Lististoligistisismicist said...

I've had a look at the Momentumist Shop online catalogue https://www.redbubble.com/people/momentumist/shop
Do their coffee mugs leak?