Rachel Riley, host of the UK television show “Countdown,” and actress Tracy Ann Oberman are preparing to take legal action against those who have targeted them on Twitter with abusive remarks over their efforts to call out antisemitism in the Labour party, the pair’s lawyer said on Thursday.
Mark Lewis said he was contacting “between 60 and 70 people” who are “almost exclusively Labour supporters” for alleged libel or harassment of his two Jewish clients, according to the Daily Mail.
He told The Guardian he would go to court and force Twitter to release details of social media users who made the Twitter posts if they did not voluntarily provide him with their contact information.
Oberman, 52, was previously a Labour member but left in April 2017 after the party’s decision to not suspend MP Ken Livingstone following antisemitism allegations. Livingstone resigned in 2018.
Riley, 33, was given extra security in January when appearing on “Countdown” after her criticism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn resulted in her being threatened by his supporters on social media.
She said at the time, “By speaking up against antisemitism you are a target. I don’t take it lightly. The more I speak, the more abuse I get, and the more abuse I get the more I speak. It’s got to the point where I can’t look at my Twitter feed any more. It’s just a constant stream.”
Lewis has repeatedly criticized Labour’s approach to claims of antisemitism, according to The Guardian. He has received hundreds of antisemitic messages in the past including “intimidating racist death threats,” he said. At the end of 2018, he moved to Israel with his partner due to the wave of antisemitism in Europe.
The lawyer noted there was no guarantee legal action would be brought against all the Twitter users he contacted. He said, “This is a very early-stage legal procedure in order to identify the potential defendants. People need to realize that when they publish on Twitter they become a publisher. Whether it’s an initial publication or republication does not matter,” he said, emphasizing that “a retweet is grounds for a case.”
“This is not about money,” he added about his clients. “They’re not looking to enrich themselves by taking legal action. They’re looking to stop vile lies.”
One Twitter account responded to Lewis’ request for his contact information saying, “Your attempts to silence me with threats and intimidation will not work. I will never stop speaking out against the barbaric treatment of the Palestinians by the viciously racist apartheid state of Israel. You, Oberman and Rachel Riley are pathetic. Now f**k off.”
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Author: Shiryn Ghermezian
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