Tony Greenstein v. Campaign Against Antisemitism

In The High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division Media and Communications List

1. This is principally a libel action, but includes claims under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”) and for misuse of private information. The defendant has applied for summary judgment in respect of the libel claims, and for orders that the other claims be struck out under the Jameel jurisdiction.

2. The proceedings were issued on 14 February 2018 and the claimant, who describes himself as a “well-known political activist with a focus on issues related to antiracism, anti-facism and Palestine”, complains about five articles published by the defendant on the website antisemitism.uk on 26 February 2017, 30 July 2017, 25 September 2017, 3 January 2018 and 24 January 2018.

3. On 14 February 2019 there was a trial of preliminary issues of meaning and fact/opinion before Nicklin J and judgment was handed down on 15 February 2019, with neutral citation [2019] EWHC 281 (QB). The five articles were referred to by Nicklin J as, respectively, the First to Fifth Articles, and they are set out in full in the Appendix to his judgment. There is therefore no need for these five articles to be appended to this judgment.

4. Nicklin J ordered that:
a. The First Article bears the following natural and ordinary meanings about the claimant. That the: “the claimant: (i) was anti-semitic; (ii) had lied when he claimed in The Guardian newspaper that the International Definition of Anti-Semitism prevents criticism of Israel; (iii) had lied to the Charity Commission when he claimed that the CAA was a right-wing political Zionist organisation that is not concerned with fascist groups who were antisemitic Holocaust deniers; and/or (iv) had committed several criminal offences including offences of dishonesty, vandalism and drug possession”.
b. The meanings at paragraph (a)(i) to (iii) are expressions of opinion. The meaning at paragraph (a)(iv) is an allegation of fact. The meanings at paragraph (a)(i) to (iv) are defamatory of the claimant at common law.
c. The Second, Third and Fourth and Fifth Articles each bear the natural and ordinary meaning: “the claimant was anti-semitic”.
d. The meanings at paragraph (c) are each expressions of opinion and defamatory of the claimant at common law.

5. The claimant sought permission to appeal this order, which was refused by Asplin LJ on paper on 25 March 2019.

6. Having determined the preliminary issues, on 15 February 2019 Nicklin J gave directions for the service of amended statements of case and, in accordance with the directions timetable set by the judge, an amended particulars of claim, amended defence and amended reply have all been served. Further, on 16 July 2019 the defendant served a Part 18 request for further information upon the claimant, which was answered on 12 August 2019.

7. On 28 April 2020 the defendant issued an application for summary judgment, alternatively that the claim be struck out.