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Rachel Riley and Tracy Ann Oberman drop lawsuit against barrister who re-tweeted blogger’s article

Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman have dropped a libel action against an immigration barrister who retweeted an article accusing them of harassing a 16-year-old girl.

Self-confessed ‘Buddhist Barrister’ Jane Heybroek shared an article by a blogger titled ‘Beneath Contempt: How Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father’

It led to the two celebrities beginning legal action against her and in May at the High Court Mr Justice Jay made a preliminary ruling that the article could be considered defamatory.

But this morning they unexpectedly dropped the case, agreeing to pay some of Ms Heybroek’s legal fees.

The lawyer said: ‘I wish to thank everyone who has helped me in the last 18 months; it will not be forgotten.

‘Ms Riley and Ms Oberman are not personally known to me. Their claim saw them seeking damages and costs in respect of my re-tweet of a tweet by the blogger, which contained a link to a blog article he had written about them in January 2019.

‘Mr article, which concerned the celebrities’ alleged behaviour towards a teenage Labour supporter on Twitter, had been re-tweeted/shared by hundreds of people.

‘Some of those people were threatened with legal action like me; others were not.

‘Ultimately, despite press reports which suggested as many as 70 people might face legal action, I was the only person who was sued.

‘Many people would have felt forced to settle for reasons of pragmatism. Whilst I am in a more fortunate position than most, after having spent almost £30,000 by a very early stage,

‘I therefore launched a fundraiser on the website CrowdJustice.com, and was overwhelmed by the response which I received. Due to the support of a great many people, I was able to continue to retain leading defamation lawyers, and properly contest the case.’

Countdown presenter Ms Riley and former EastEnders actress Ms Oberman are vocal campaigners against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. 

The blog article, referenced a social media account, who said she was a 16-year-old girl.

MailOnline understands she posted a comment – which is now unable to be found – at odds with the idea of anti-Semitism in Labour.

It prompted Ms Oberman to respond and invite her and her parents to meet another young female campaigner.

Ms Riley later backed up the actress for speaking out against anti-Semitism and hatred.

The tweets from the two famous personalities were then used in the blog accusing them of harassing the girl, which both celebrities deny.

Ms Heybroek added: ‘I ask people, for their own sakes, not to discuss the content of the article, nor to comment on Ms Riley or Ms Oberman on social media more generally.

‘Notwithstanding the fact that I am a lawyer by profession, this has been a long, and at times exhausting experience, and I would not wish anyone to find themselves on the receiving end of legal action.’

Ms Riley and Ms Oberman’s lawyer Mark Lewis explained why the case had been dropped.

He said: ‘Tracy Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley chose not to proceed further after the Judge had determined that the opinion expressed was capable of being defamatory, in circumstances where Jayne Heybroek claimed that she had promptly deleted her retweet.

‘Their libel insurers did not see any advantage in pursuing a case over the liability of a retweet that was deleted so quickly and therefore the insurer paid a very modest sum. 

‘Regrettably the defamatory tweeter lives in South America and has no visible assets. There are bigger fish to fry, in the pursuit of those who choose to maintain a serious libel.’

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