Rachel Riley’s legal bill could exceed £1m as she loses latest round of libel battle

Rachel Riley features in Always campaign for young women

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According to a leading lawyer, Countdown star Rachel Riley, 35, could end up spending more than £1 million in legal fees battling a pro-Jeremy Corbyn blogger, who called her a “serial abuser” on his website. Mike Sivier also blamed the mathematician for death threats sent to a 16-year-old girl on Twitter. This week Mr Sivier won an appeal against the TV star after three Court of Appeal judges ruled that his public defence interest should be assessed at trial. The Countdown star could end up spending over £1 million if she ultimately loses at trial.

I would allow the appeal

Lord Justice Warby

After Mr Sivier published an article on his website Vox Political titled, ‘Serial abuser Rachel Riley to receive ‘extra protection’ – on grounds that she is receiving abuse’, the Countdown star took him to court.

The article, published in January 2019, claimed that the Oxford alumnus launched a “campaign of online abuse and harassment” towards a teenage girl on Twitter.

Defending what he had published, Mr Sivier argued that his article was “substantially true”, honest opinion and a matter of public interest.

Earlier this year a HIgh Court judge ruled in favour of the Countdown star.

Addressing Mr Sivier’s defences, Mrs Justice Collins Rice concluded that he had “no prospect” of succeeding at trial.

However, in a turn of events, he won an appeal.

In the latest round of the legal battle, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that Mr Sivier’s public defence interest should be assessed at trial.

Commenting on the cost of the legal battle, lawyer Mark Stephens told MailOnline that total costs could exceed £1 million for the Countdown star.

The lawyer, who has previously represented Wikileaks founder Jeremy Assange, suggested that the star could have spent up to £70,000 in her legal battle so far.

He went on to say that the mathematician could end up spending over £1 million on the case in total and added that a full-scale libel trial “has an absolute floor is £500,000”.

The expert lawyer said: “If she wins she will get some costs back but she has lost this round so she will have to pay Mike Sivier’s costs and his barrister for the appeal which will be £15,00 – £20,000.”

Following Mr Sivier’s appeal, Lord Justice Waby said in a written ruling: “‘I would allow the appeal.

“I would set aside the order striking out the defence of publication on matter of public interest,” he continued.

He went on to say: “In my view, the appropriate course is for the public interest defence to be assessed at a trial.”

Lord Justice Henderson and Dame Victoria Sharp agreed.

The Countdown star’s dispute with Mr Sivier centres on tweets posted as part of an online debate on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Some of the exchanges were between the Countdown star and a social media user, who identified as a 16-year-old girl called Rose.

The TV host has told how she is Jewish, has a “hatred of anti-Semitism”, speaks out against it and thinks the Corbyn-led Labour Party was “fostering anti-Semitism”.

The TV star’s legal battle comes as she waits to hear whether she has won a separate damages fight after suing a former aide to Jeremy Corbyn for libel.

She sued Laura Murray, 32, over a tweet posted two years ago.

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