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SoE: Cadwalladr verdict a “hugely important victory” for press freedom

The Society of Editors has welcomed yesterday’s High Court judgement that saw Brexit donor Arron Banks lose his libel case against Guardian and Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr.

SoE: Cadwalladr verdict a “hugely important victory” for press freedom
Dawn Alford: “The case brought against Cadwalladr … highlights the ongoing challenges and threats faced by journalists.”

Describing this morning’s judgement as a “hugely important victory” for both Cadwalladr and press freedom, the Society said that the verdict also highlighted the vitally important role and challenges that journalists continue to face in holding the wealthy and powerful to account.

Banks had sued Cadwalladr personally over a Ted Talk and a Tweet in which she said the businessman had lied about his relationship with the Russian state. Delivering this morning’s judgement, Mrs Justice Steyn said that the tweet had not caused harm to Mr Banks’ reputation, while there were a public interest defence for her comments in the TED talk.

Dawn Alford, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said: “The Society of Editors welcomes today’s judgement which is a hugely important victory for both Carole Cadwalladr and press freedom more widely.

“While today’s verdict is a welcome one, the case brought against Cadwalladr – an award-winning investigative reporter – highlights the ongoing challenges and threats faced by journalists in producing public interest journalism that seeks to hold the wealthy and powerful to account. The case brought against Cadwalladr targeted her personally and comes amid a number of recent cases in which powerful and wealthy individuals have sought to use their authority to silence journalists and deter public interest reporting and investigative journalism.

“The Society has responded in length to the government’s recent consultation on Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and we have highlighted the urgent need for reform in this area. Journalists must be able to fulfil their vitally important role without fear of lengthy and costly litigation.”

The judgement can be found in full here.

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