It was in the wake of the report leak that the Jewish Chronicle told “The libel lawyer Mark Lewis is applying for a court order against the Labour Party on behalf of a client to force it to divulge who leaked the antisemitism report last April, so they can be sued. The move, known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order, has previously been used against social media companies such as Twitter to get them supply the names of anonymous users”.
The Guardian reported that “A former senior Labour staffer has taken the party to court in an attempt to force it to disclose the identity of the leaker of a report on antisemitism in the party that contained hundreds of private WhatsApp messages … One of those named in the report, Emilie Oldknow … demanded in a court hearing on Monday that the names of the leakers be revealed in order to give her the option of taking legal action against them”.
As Private Eye might have put it, I wonder if the two are in any way related? I think we should be told. Lawman Lewis has, in the past, threatened the use of Norwich Pharmacal orders. But then came the judgment, and for Ms Oldknow, and whoever she had instructed, the moment of reality. She lost. And that meant she would have to pay costs.
The Guardian was, once again, on hand to bring the news. “The alleged leakers of a controversial Labour party report into its handling of antisemitism should not be named because it would risk harm to potentially innocent individuals, the high court has ruled. The case was brought by the former senior Labour staffer Emilie Oldknow”.
It got worse. “Oldknow has been ordered to pay the Labour party’s costs and has been refused permission to appeal … Five anonymous individuals, represented by the trade union Unite, who deny any responsibility for the leak, were also represented at the hearing”. So she’ll most likely have to stump up for their costs, too. And there was more.
“Ms Justice Tipples said that Oldknow’s claim ‘smacks of a fishing expedition, so that the claimant can cast around to identify potential defendants’ to sue … ‘In my view, if the Labour party is required to identify individuals … It will be doing no more than identifying a list of who it reasonably believes are to be the culprits … There is therefore no certainty that the information sought will lead to the identification of the wrongdoer or wrongdoers’”.
One of yours, Mark? Not like you to lose, is it?
And more. "She said there would be ‘a very real potential to cause harm to any innocent persons as they will then find themselves threatened with legal proceedings, which they will then have to defend’”. At considerable expense. And talking of considerable expense, Unite The Union had instructed Messrs Carter Ruck. That means it’s expensive.
Also, another thought occurs: next month marks a year since the revelations of the leaked report. So anyone wanting to sue for defamation may be out of time. Especially as the request to appeal the Judge’s decision was refused - which means that is that.
Even the greatest lawyers come unstuck eventually. I’ll just leave that one there.
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