UPDATE 07/09 12:00 The Craig Murray defence fund has just sailed serenely past £50,000 in electronic donations in almost precisely 24 hours, even before any of the cheques have arrived. It is a perfect illustration of the grossly disproportionate threat to freedom of speech that is the English libel system, that this is not sufficient and we have to persevere with the appeal.
2,080 people have donated an average of £24. The largest single donation is £4,000. There are also hundreds of £3 and £5 donations which do really add up. I am absolutely stunned by the outpouring of kindness I have experienced – though in fairness I should mention the significant minority who say they are motivated by despisal of the Daily Mail.
I am being sued for libel in the High Court in England by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of the Daily Mail Online. Mr Wallis Simons is demanding £40,000 in damages and the High Court has approved over £100,000 in costs for Mark Lewis, Mr Wallis Simons’ lawyer. I may become liable for all of this should I lose the case, and furthermore I have no money to pay for my defence. I am currently a defendant in person. This case has the potential to bankrupt me and blight the lives of my wife and children. I have specifically been threatened by Mr Lewis with bankruptcy.
Mr Wallis Simons boasts on his website:
In 2015, I published a series of articles exposing Jeremy Corbyn’s links with anti-Semitic figures, and this led to what is now known as the “Labour anti-Semitism scandal.”
It was my Sky TV appearance on this subject which led to this libel action against me.
It is my view that English libel law remains an international disgrace, a device by which the wealthy and those with wealthy backers, and only they, can stifle freedom of speech. Contempt of Court laws – with a penalty of two years imprisonment – even prevent poor defendants like me from putting their case openly before the public in order to appeal for a public defence fund. I am extremely limited in what I can tell you.
How can it cost just one party six times the average annual national wage to litigate a five minute TV broadcast? The libel system, with its in-built advantage to the wealthy and those backed by the wealthy, is a complete disgrace. Andy Wightman, the brilliant Scottish land reform campaigner, has been going through the same Hell.
I find I am obliged to beg you for funds to help me defend the case. I need to ask every single person who reads this blog to find it in their heart to make at least some contribution, as much as you can afford. The scale of this thing is such that I need to ask those of you who are comfortably off to make a far larger donation than you might normally consider. In practice we are going to need to include some four figure donations to make the ludicrous amounts required. But every single penny mounts up and please do give something.
If you have ever enjoyed this blog – join the fight. If you dislike this blog but support freedom of speech – join the fight. If you support the right to defend Palestine without being labelled ant-Semitic – join the fight. If you despised the anti-Corbyn media campaign – join the fight. If the Daily Mail sickens you – join the fight.
Every donation, no matter how small, will be gratefully received. The case will be heard in the High Court on 7 November. In the event of victory, after costs are met (even a costs award does not cover all actual costs) excess donations will be returned pro-rata unless you specify they should be applied to the future of maintaining the blog.
This is a question not only of the continued existence of this blog, but of the future well-being of my young family. It is unfair on you for me to place all of that in your hands, but that is the situation into which I am forced.
UPDATE 06/09 20:00 In just 8 hours we have received £21,790 in donations to the fighting fund. This is a fantastic start. 836 individuals have donated, making the average donation £26. The largest donation received is £1,000 and the smallest are £3. I am incredibly humbled and grateful that we are starting to have a chance. There have been so many kind messages, of which “you cast a lot of bread upon the waters helping others, Craig” made me greet for a bit. I have particularly enjoyed those from people who declare they agree with almost nothing I say but support free speech! About 60% of donations are from Scotland, but so far we have 22 different countries.
I really cannot express my gratitude enough.
On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to pay by card without logging in. For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address. A surprising number of people have asked for a Bitcoin option and we are working on it.
I found this interview by the lawyer who is suing me to be particularly interesting. I may say no more than that without danger of contempt of court.