[Update at end of post]
When the defamation action brought by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley and minor thesp Tracy Ann Oberman against barrister Jane Heybroek effectively collapsed earlier this year, some might have thought that that was very much that. But it was not, not while the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker could leverage it for sales and clicks.
Jane Heybroek - not even told about publication
As Zelo Street regulars will know, Ms Riley and Ms Oberman, aided by their lawyer Mark Lewis, had gone after Ms Heybroek after the latter Retweeted a link to a blogpost written by Shaun Lawson, in which he had passed severely adverse comment on their behaviour towards a 16-year-old Labour activist. The problem for them was that they were unable to pony up any evidence of reputational damage, or to say how long the Tweet had been up.
So they withdrew their action against Ms Heybroek and paid some of her costs. Not that you would know that from Mail Online’s crude recycling of the affair, which appears to be nothing more than padding out a puff piece for a TV drama in which Ms Oberman has a supporting role. The rehashing is just tacked on to the Sleb Goss.
“It comes after Tracy Ann and Rachel Riley dropped a libel action against an immigration barrister who retweeted an article accusing them of harassing a 16-year-old girl. Self-confessed 'Buddhist Barrister' Jane Heybroek shared an article by a blogger titled 'Beneath Contempt: How Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father’”. It’s gratuitous. And it’s out of order.
Ms Heybroek has left us in no doubt as to why. “And this shit continues. One day I'll write an article about the full legal proceedings between Oberman, Riley and I, but I am far too busy at the moment. Meanwhile, they get to tell their biased version of the story time and again in the Daily Heil”. She then addressed Mail Online directly.
“Don't you have a duty to contact people about whom you are writing article? Here is my full statement in respect of Ms Riley and Ms Oberman withdrawing their case against me and paying towards my costs. Kindly correct … Be under no illusions: I asked my solicitor to intervene the last time you did this, and you amended your article. I will be asking him to intervene this time. If this happens again, I shall go straight to IPSO as this is a ‘course of conduct’”. The Mail’s characterisation of her is also gratuitous and wrong.
“Finally, I am not a ‘self-confessed Buddhist Barrister’. I am a Barrister and a practicing Buddhist. Do not attack me on the basis of my religion again, otherwise that is going straight to IPSO as well. Despicable”. In the Mail hierarchy of religions, Christianity and Judaism are approved. Islam is not. Buddhism is frowned upon. Hence the smear.
Ms Heybroek should have been contacted prior to publication. But it seems someone has just copied and pasted from a previous article without bothering. After all, it’s only one of the little people, and they don’t matter. Not if they don’t generate sales and clicks.
It is this cavalier attitude towards those not in the limelight that shows our free and fearless press in their true colours. Don’t buy the Sun. And don’t buy the Mail either.
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[UPDATE 2025 hours: the Mail has, in response to a little prodding from Ms Heybroek's lawyers, removed all references to anti-Semitism from its article.
The inference made by including those references was clear, and potentially defamatory]