Countdown star Rachel Riley awarded £10,000 over former Jeremy Corbyn aide’s tweet

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  • Rachel Riley
    Rachel Riley
    English television presenter
  • Jeremy Corbyn
    Jeremy Corbyn
    Former Leader of the British Labour Party, MP for Islington North
 (PA)
(PA)

Television presenter Rachel Riley has been awarded £10,000 in damages at the high court after suing a former Jeremy Corbyn aide over a Twitter spat.

The 35-year-old Countdown star, inset, took legal action against Laura Murray over a Tweet sent two-and-a-half years ago, following an attack on the former Labour leader.

Giving judgment on Monday, Mr Justice Nicklin dismissed Ms Murray’s defences of truth and honest opinion from a libel trial.

He said Ms Riley should be awarded £10,000 in damages and concluded Ms Murray would have known her attack on the TV star could be read as “provocation”.

The legal row stemmed from an incident in March 2019 when Mr Corbyn was hit with an egg while visiting a north London mosque.

Ms Riley posted a screenshot of a January 2019 Tweet by a Guardian columnist about an attack on former British National Party leader Nick Griffin which said: “I think sound life advice is, if you don’t want eggs thrown at you, don’t be a Nazi.”

Ms Riley added the comment “good advice”, along with emojis of a red rose and an egg.

In her response, Ms Murray tweeted: “Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque for visit My Mosque Day, and was attacked by a Brexiteer. Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi. This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.”

Ms Riley sued for libel, arguing her own message had been sarcastic, that she did not call Mr Corbyn a Nazi, and claiming Ms Murray’s response had caused damage to her reputation.

Ms Murray, who was a stakeholder manager in Mr Corbyn’s office when he was Labour leader, relied on a defence of truth and said her comment was an honestly held opinion.

At the libel trial in May, she argued she had “100 per cent” believed Ms Riley was applying the Nazi slur to Mr Corbyn.

In reply, Ms Riley insisted the message from Ms Murray was a “dog whistle” intended to encourage online attacks on her.

Ms Riley said she had faced calls for her to be sacked from her TV job.

Mr Justice Nicklin said Ms Murray “could easily” have avoided the legal fight with a more carefully worded message.

A further hearing has been set for January 22 next year for any remaining matters from the libel case.

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