A British journalist will have to pay tens of thousands in costs after admitting her claim that Russia funded the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign was unfounded.
Carole Cadwalladr, a featured writer for Pro-Remain Observer newspaper, caved in on Wednesday night. That was just hours before she was due to appear in London's High Court on Thursday morning to answer a libel case brought last year by Leave.EU Leave.EUcLeave.EUo-founder Arron Banks, political gossip site Guido Fawkes reported.
Cadwalladr will avoid court by submitting a revised defence statement which "removes the Truth Defence and the Limitation Defence", the site reported, and will have to make a £62,000 down-payment towards Banks' legal costs.
Guido Fawkes previously reported that legal fees for both sides could amount to £500,000, but that Cadwalladr had launched a £175,000 internet crowdfunding campaign to fight the case - which she has now effectively abandoned with her admission that she had no proof.
Banks and other leading Brexiteers accused of working with Russia to get the UK out of the European Union (EU) welcomed the news.
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) November 26, 2020
Cadwalladr had already been forced to apologise to Banks in early in November for for claiming in October that he had been "found to have broken the law".
Banks responded at the time that “she needs to prove the allegation I lied about a secret relationship with the Russians over campaign cash. She has none. This is about the truth rather than restricting press freedom.”
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) November 6, 2020
Cadwalladr's pieces for the Observer link Banks, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, US conservative news website Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin - all bogeymen of pro-EU liberals.
The journalist was nominated for a Pulitzer prize in 2019 for her writing on Cambridge Analytica, a British data analysis firm that was accused of misusing user data from social media site Facebook to influence the 2016 US presidential election in favour of Trump. She also appeared in the Netflix documentary The Great Hack on the company. But a report by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office in October this year found the firm had not acted illegally.
Leave.EU called for a line to be drawn under the unfounded claims:
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) November 26, 2020
And Farage congratulated Banks on the victory, noting that he had also been the victim of baseless accusations of collusion with Russia.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 26, 2020
Former BrexitCentral website deputy editor Darren Grimes, who was questioned under caution by London's Metropolitan Police over allegedly racist comments made by historian David Starkey on Grimes' YouTube channel Reasoned, also felt the schadenfreude.
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) November 26, 2020
The UK voted in June 2016 by 17.4 million votes to 16.1 million to leave the EU, and formally exited the bloc early this year.