This judgment discusses the preliminary issue as to meaning in a defamation claim brought by the Claimant in respect of four publications. The Claimant is a British businessman who is a prominent figure in the campaign for the United Kingdom to leave the EU. The Defendant is an author, investigative journalist and features writer. The four publications whose meaning was determined comprised two public talks (on the TED website and a “Convention” event) and two tweets.
The judge found the following meanings:
- The TED Talk and the First Tweet meant: On more than one occasion Mr. Banks told untruths about a secret relationship he had with the Russian Government in relation to acceptance of foreign funding of electoral campaigns in breach of the law on such funding;
- The Convention Speech meant: Mr. Banks had been offered money by the Russians and that there were substantial grounds to investigate whether he would be willing to accept such funds in violation of prohibitions on foreign electoral funding;
- The Second Tweet meant: There is a proper basis to investigate whether Mr. Banks’ contact with Russia involved any criminal conduct just as the Italian government is investigating Lega’s contact with the Russians.
Sara Mansoori, Gavin Millar QC and Ben Silverstone were involved in this case.