The libel action brought by blogger Richard Millett against the MP and former leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has been settled by consent. A court order bringing the litigation to an end has been approved by Mr Justice Nicklin. Mr Millett brought the claim in relation to a statement Mr Corbyn made during a live interview on The Andrew Marr Show broadcast on BBC One in September 2018.
The claim has been discontinued by Mr Millett with no order as to costs. A three week trial of the case was due to begin on Monday 10 October 2022.
The parties have released the following joint statement:
“The libel claim brought by Richard Millett against the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP has been settled. Mr Corbyn has paid no damages, has made no apology and has given no undertakings concerning repetition of the words complained of. No costs have been paid by either party to the other as part of this settlement, save in respect of an outstanding order of the Court of Appeal from April 2021.
Neither party will be making any other comment about the case.”
In 2020 the court ruled that, although Mr Corbyn had not named Mr Millett in the Marr interview, Mr Millett would have been recognisable to some viewers. The court found that Mr Corbyn’s words meant that: (1) on one occasion Mr Millett had been so disruptive at a meeting in the House of Commons that the police wished to remove him from the premises, but Mr Corbyn asked that he be allowed to remain; (2) Mr Millett had acted in a disruptive way at other meetings and (3) at a meeting Mr Millett had been extremely abusive in his treatment of Mr Hassassian [the Palestinian Ambassador] after Mr Hassassian spoke at the meeting. The nature of the abuse was such that Mr Hassassian was caused distress by Mr Millett’s behaviour. Mr Corbyn felt the need to speak to support Mr Hassassian. Mr Millett’s conduct towards Mr Hassassian was based on what Mr Hassassian had said and/or the views he was expressing.
Mr Corbyn defended the case on the grounds that:
• what he had said about Mr Millett was true;
• that he reasonably believed it to have been in the public interest to say what he said about Mr Millett; and
• that he had been speaking honestly on an occasion of qualified privilege.
Thirty-one independent witnesses agreed to give evidence on Mr Corbyn’s behalf, and gave witness statements about Mr Millett’s conduct at twenty separate meetings. Their evidence included video, audio, photographic and documentary evidence. Mr Corbyn was also to give evidence.
Mr Millett was to call seven witnesses, and intended on giving evidence himself.
The settlement brings to an end the protracted litigation on the basis set out in the joint statement.
Howe + Co’s Media/Libel Team were pleased to represent Jeremy Corbyn in his defence of the case. Our media team are: Martin Howe (senior partner), Kieran O’Rourke (partner), John Sheridan (solicitor) and Aylin Howe (solicitor).
Howe + Co instructed William McCormick KC (Selborne Chambers) and Mark Henderson (Doughty Street Chambers).