Paddy French. Er hello, he's on the train ...
As Press Gazette reported last October, Ware was seeking £50,000 in damages from Press Gang editor Paddy French, after the latter “published a 16-page pamphlet in December  describing the ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ Panorama that aired in July 2019 as ‘a piece of rogue journalism’ … According to the crowdfunding page, the Press Gang pamphlet ‘weighed up the evidence and took a critical view of the programme’”.
Moreover, “Ware is also suing Jewish Voice for Labour and two of its officers. The group’s website reproduced the introduction to the Press Gang report and linked to an online copy of the pamphlet … They are also defending the action”. There was also a threat to sue former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but this somehow failed to materialise.
So what of Paddy French’s defence? Well, PG has once again been on the case, telling that “He is arguing his report was both true and in the public interest … French said he ‘reasonably believed’ the Panorama programme was ‘one-sided and strongly advocated the position that the Labour Party was institutionally anti-Semitic’ and added that the tone of his article was ‘measured, considered and responsible’”. There was more.
“The question of whether the BBC and Ware had ‘fairly and impartially reported’ on the issue of anti-Semitism within Labour when an election was imminent was ‘one of the greatest public importance’… ‘The position of the Labour Party in general and Jeremy Corbyn in particular on this issue had been consistently misrepresented in the media and it was in the public interest for contrary views to be aired to enable the public to make informed decisions in the forthcoming general election’”. A question of timing. And more.
“In his truth defence French claimed Ware’s ‘actions and omissions’ constituted ‘rogue journalism’ because he had ‘deliberately suppressed and concealed facts which were contrary to the thesis which he wished to present … In writing and presenting a biased programme making knowingly false statements about the incidence and nature of anti-Semitism in the Corbyn-led Labour Party the claimant was guilty of “dirty tricks”’”.
The PG article gives examples of those alleged omissions. What it does not do is consider the potential fallout from this action, especially if French stands up his truth defence and Ware loses. That would put the BBC in one of those Very Difficult Positions, especially given the closeness of broadcast to the 2019 General Election.
Also, the Beeb has just pulled a Panorama broadcast on the Martin Bashir Diana interview (which was also an edition of Panorama). Was Ware the reporter? The effect of Ware losing would have serious implications for the current Labour leadership, given they settled with the Panorama whistleblowers - and the BBC’s shrugging off a lot of complaints.
Much work has been done on the quiet to present a truth defence to John Ware’s claim. We will know if Ware’s lawyers are worried as soon as they try and have it struck out.
[Paddy French is crowdfunding his defence. You can contribute to it HERE]
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