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The other day I briefly featured the Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman SLAPP lawsuit targeting Mike Sivier for defending a vulnerable teen and I think this disgusting example is worth highlighting here. In an age where so many young people engage frequently on the internet parents want to know that their children can be kept as safe as possible from online bullying that in the past has driven young people to the brink of suicide. It is especially important that those in the public eye don’t use their influence to endanger the most innocent young members of society at a point where they are just starting to gain confidence in themselves. On his Crowdfunding Page Sivier identifies two women who seriously crossed the line, writing, “Most people who know of Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman will consider them to be minor television personalities, known for Countdown and EastEnders respectively. But I know them as a pair of Twitter bullies who harassed and intimidated a teenage girl who suffers extreme anxiety.”
Who is Mike Sivier? He introduces himself as, “a news reporter of 25 years’ experience, currently running a political news and opinion website (Vox) after giving up my day job to become a full-time carer for my disabled partner.” He explains the focus of his most well known reporting work, “exposing the thousands of unexplained deaths of people who claimed sickness benefits but were denied them after taking the Conservative government’s punitive work capability assessment.” He then admits that, “More recently I have met criticism over my interest in the misuse of accusations of anti-Semitism for political purposes. My research and articles on this matter attracted libellous articles about me in the national newspapers in early 2018. I took all of the newspapers involved to the press regulator IPSO, and all have been forced to publish articles correcting their false claims.” So far this sounds like a really resounding victory for freedom of speech and the progressive press, but he has now run into a major problem.
Sivier describes what happened in response to a critical article that he wrote entitled, “Serial abuser Rachel Riley to receive ‘extra protection’ – on grounds that she is receiving abuse.” Sivier says, “When I wrote an article about their Ms Riley and Ms Oberman’s bullying of a teenage girl, they threatened to sue me for libel, claiming that they did not behave in the ways I stated and that I had caused serious damage to their reputations.” He posts Links to the article in question and says, “The Guardian is reporting that Rachel Riley is to receive ‘extra security’ at recordings of Countdown after receiving online abuse. Ms Riley ‘said she had been targeted by Labour supporters on Twitter for her criticisms of the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn’, over alleged anti-Semitism.”
Sivier reports that, “The paper stated: ‘She has already spoken about being trolled online, but said the problem had worsened and included physical threats… ‘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.’ ‘I’ve been attacked by people on the left and the best way to not have me talk about antisemitism on the left is not to be antisemitic.’ I find myself in a unique position to comment on this as a person who has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism – by some of the people with whom Ms Riley has allied herself – and been shown to be demonstrably innocent. Considering the quality of the debate, I wonder if I’ll be accused again as a result of this article” Well of course he was and the matter escalated to legal threats.
Sivier states very clearly that, “It is absolutely right that abuse should not be tolerated, and anybody abusing or threatening another person – over any issue – needs to be tackled over it.” But he insists, “that includes Ms Riley – because she is, herself a serial abuser. She tells us she became involved in the debate on anti-Semitism in March last year, after seeing a news report on a demonstration outside Parliament. That’s when she began writing, speaking and tweeting about it. Nobody, at that time, had sent her any anti-Semitic abuse or even engaged her in healthy debate about her point of view. She has managed to provoke any adverse reactions herself (and bear in mind that I have already stated I do not support any abuse. I make this clear because experience shows that points like this need to be hammered home).” Like so many others who started ranting about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party Riley did not bother to search for actual evidence or fact check the statistics before she fired off her insults.
Sivier Lists a few, “Examples of her contributions to the debate on anti-Semitism include:
• Praising an organisation whose members publicly harass and abuse peaceful pro-Palestinian protestors, and even issue death threats.
• Making anti-Semitism accusations against people who criticised Lord Sugar’s claim that he’d leave the country if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister (most people didn’t even know he is Jewish at the time). Sugar himself has had to apologise for at least one public display of racism.
• Supporting the anti-Semite Mark Meechan (aka ‘Count Dankula’) who taught his dog to perform Nazi salutes when he said ‘Gas the Jews!’ and ‘Sieg heil!’
• Vilifying the great Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky as an anti-Semite.
• Cold-shouldering a 16-year-old girl with anxiety problems who had pointed out that Ms Riley has adopted questionable allies, in such a way that her (Ms Riley’s) supporters subjected her to an appalling amount of abuse (known as dogpiling).
• Doubling-down on this behaviour by including a tweet from the same teenager as an example of anti-Semitism.
• Comparing this teenager’s attempt to point out the inconsistencies in her own behaviour with ‘the spread of Antisemitism’.”
Sivier also lists, “The consequences of Riley and Oberman’s obscene conduct have been as follows:
1. Rosie’s Twitter account has been hacked several times, by people trying to delete screenshots. Now why might that be…?
2. People have tried to track down her family’s address and her devastated mother’s Facebook page.
3. Someone eavesdropped on Rosie in class and tried to sell the story to The Sun. Which in keeping with its reputation of being lower than vermin, printed something… before deleting it hours later.
4. She has people in college believing she’s an anti-Semite.
5. She, a 16-year-old child, has received death threats.”
Sivier is quick to point out that he is, “not saying Ms Riley intentionally tried to get her followers to threaten this girl with death. But nobody can deny that her irresponsibility has encouraged others to do so, and that she has been reckless as to the consequences of her behaviour. So now we see that a person who has complained to the newspapers about ‘extra security’ on the TV show she co-presents – because of death threats – has herself provoked death threats against a teenage girl. And you can be sure this girl won’t be getting ‘extra security’ – or, indeed, any security at all.”
In a lengthy Medium Article, written by Shaun Lawson, entitled, “Beneath Contempt: How Tracy Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father” that has further information about the shocking incident. As you can see, both pieces are based on actions that are directly attributable to these people. My piece on the intimidation of the teenager provoked a huge attempt at bullying on Twitter – known as a ‘dogpile’. Lawson provides a lot of very illuminating graphs full of data that debunk all of the vile garbage being hurled at Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party over anti-Semitism. He is himself Jewish with family members killed in the Holocaust so if anyone should feel very strongly about this issue he certainly has a right to. However, he fits the profile of so many who are now being targeted as “the wrong sort of Jew” or “self-hating Jews.”
Further down in his extensive article Lawson focuses on the abuse and harassment of Rosie that was to prove so distressing and abhorrent. He says that, “Other than one tweet she deleted within seconds of issuing it, the tweets below were the only time she wrote to Oberman throughout this sorry saga. Rosie writes, ‘You have no idea the distress having a huge pile on has caused. I spoke about my anxiety way before this but it’s me that is the bad person. You ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how upset I have been about this, the abuse reduced me to tears. – I am absolutely sickened that you have used me to make me out as an attention seeker. This whole time i have been debating politely but I was forced to block people after I was piled on and abused. I have never been racist once in this whole thing, just simply trying to make – My voice heard too, as a Labour member who’s sick of the idea that condemning the actions of Israel means someone is antisemetic’.”
Lawson concedes that, “It is absolutely plausible (indeed, highly likely) that Oberman had been referring to someone else in her tweet. But that would be her only point of defence in all that would follow. Rosie had warned Oberman about pile-ons and her anxiety. Yet the latter suddenly started tweeting to her, and about her. First she tried to introduce Rosie to another young woman, Charley: a completely innocent bystander throughout what followed, to whom absolutely zero blame is attached. Then Oberman got a rather strange idea in her head.” The tweets Lawson screen-grabbed illustrate just how strange as Oberman repeatedly requests that they should meet up. Oberman tweets, “But, I’d love to meet you Rosie. When you are next in London let’s go for coffee. Maybe @charley_yorks could meet us too. It would be great to connect young people who could maybe open a dialog.”
Lawson reports that, “Rosie, a 16-year-old child with anxiety, which she had already informed Oberman about, had been tagged into all three tweets. Oberman’s offer was pleasant enough; but any right-thinking adult would have left it at that. Unfortunately, Tracy Ann Oberman is no such adult.” Oberman continues to send a barrage of tweets. Lawson says, “At this point, a friend of Rosie’s stepped in and told Oberman what should have been blindingly obvious.” Oberman was seriously creeping Rosie out and they pointed out that Rosie’s parents would not want her going to London on her own. If Oberman was an adult male making similar suggestions online it would be flagged up as ‘grooming,’ but her invitation is just as inappropriate given Rosie’s age; have the BBC learned nothing since the Savel scandal. But does Oberman cease and desist? No the tweets get worse.
Lawson reports that Oberman suggests, “Maybe we could come and meet Rosie?” Lawson is shocked writing, “Tracy: wake up and smell the restraining order!” He says, “It’s exactly that which, by now, would have been scaring the heck out of Rosie or anyone else, for that matter.” After a deluge of online abuse Rosie had the common sense to refuse face to face confrontation with people who shared the views and sympathies of those who had been so disgustingly abusive online. In the tweets that followed Oberman said Rosie’s parents could join them and it would be her treat. At what point was she going to accept that no, means no and leave the poor child in peace? Oberman is a 51-year-old woman. This complete stranger had now issued her invitation to a 16-year-old child with anxiety, who’d been bullied constantly over the previous few weeks, not once, not twice… but on SIXTEEN separate occasions. Goodness only knows what was in her mind.” That constitutes very serious abuse.
Lawson says, “Think that was it? Think again. Incomprehensibly, Oberman continued to tweet to Rosie, talk about her in public, or copy her in to virtually every tweet she made.” Lawson printed a large selection saying, “This followed the sole tweet which a now terrified Rosie had sent Oberman, then deleted within seconds. By now, more and more people were stepping in on this petrified child’s behalf. How did Oberman respond?” She blocking the person trying to defend Rosie and “accused her of being part of a ‘smear campaign’. No Tracy: you’d been publicly smearing yourself for hours. Quite how Oberman had convinced herself that as this was all happening in public, and she’d been ‘open and welcoming’, it somehow wasn’t the textbook definition of harassment, I have no idea. Her world-beating levels of self-delusion would cause her to bury herself deeper and deeper over the hours ahead.”
Lawson reported that, “Throughout this whole time, Rosie had not responded, while friends of hers had demanded Oberman stop. Yet had the latter now convinced herself they were friends or something?! Appallingly, for the crime of trying to protect a terrified child she was harassing non-stop, Oberman also instantly smeared others. Yes, you read that right. When informed that this 16-year-old girl was sitting in class out of her mind in panic at what was going on, Oberman described it as a ‘politically motivated smear… politically and race motivated’. By now, her behaviour should’ve had her ushered away from her computer screen by the men in the white coats. Yet still, she would not shut up. Unbelievably, she even retweeted this outrageous pile of nonsense sent to, of all people, Rosie’s father.”
Lawson claims, “Tracy was harassing her in plain sight; and none of her allies, including other public figures, had done anything to stop it. Not one. Including Riley, who’d also been copied into many of the tweets. As, on a significant number of occasions, had Al Murray, Frances Barber and JK Rowling. As if to confirm that irony had just died, the woman who’d been publicly harassing a child for hours on end now accused someone else of bullying her. What had that someone else done? Only try to stop this completely out of control harassment. Oberman continued to double down (by now, it was more like sextuple down) on anyone calling her out. By this point, Oberman had sent an unsolicited invitation to Rosie 16 times, sent her direct tweets a further nine times, copied her into her tweets another 17 times, mentioned her a further 11 times… and smeared various people who’d desperately tried to stop what was going on.” Lawson has posted screen-shots of dozens of tweets that could be used in evidence to prosecute Oberman!
Lawson continued saying that, “One of Oberman’s followers, Rachel Bridge, had also seen fit to accuse Labour Left Voice of… ‘grooming Rosie’?! Believe it or not, we still hadn’t reached the worst of it yet. First, Oberman went into yet further denial. ‘Smear nonsense’? 63 tweets was awfully close to the truth. He says, then she moved on to something truly wicked. ‘Used’? By whom? Did she ask you to send her nigh on 60 tweets in 7 hours while she was in college? …At length, the absolute lowest of the low. When a 16-year-old child has spent the entire day being harassed, in public, by a celebrity, there’s only one thing that’s going to make her feel even worse. When her father is attacked too. Yet that’s what Oberman did. All Rosie’s Dad had done was try to protect his daughter from this utterly revolting madness.” Right blame the dad! Rosie’s father had had quite enough of this horrific behaviour;” he tweeted his response that should have shaken some sense into a normal humane individual, “But not our Tracy.”
Lawson said, “Then, for some unfathomable reason, Oberman started referring to her prey as an ‘18-year-old’. And it wasn’t a typo, because she did it not once, not twice, but three times: and once more defamed Rosie’s father in so doing.” He says, “Oberman wasn’t done. She committed another grotesque slander against Rosie’s father. And then, the lies began. In polite English, this is what’s known as ‘frantic arse covering’. She is 16. How dare you suggest otherwise? Still, never mind: up popped Riley to lend her support to someone who had relentlessly harassed a child and abused her father for good measure.” “…the lies, the dissembling, the nauseating self-regard, the astounding levels of conceit continued:” Celebrity abusers slung painful insults at the terrified teen; in her defence Lawson says, “Education’? Rosie is an extremely well educated, gifted young woman, with a massive future ahead of her. Do you think she needs reprogramming or something? Is this something out of Orwell? Who do you think you are?”
I don’t recognize the famous names mentioned here, but Lawson says that, “just to remind us how stupid so much of Britain’s glitterati is, Emma Kennedy had her entirely ill-informed say as well. Memo to Emma: chatting openly to a 16-year-old child on a public forum is one thing. Sending this child 16 unsolicited invitations to meet a complete stranger, around 60 unsolicited tweets in total, slandering anyone trying to protect her and even defaming her Dad is quite another.” Lawson points out that “on the subject of libel: telling the truth is an absolute defence. But hey ho, who cares about any of that? It’s only harassment of a terrified child by someone more than three times her age, after all. Harassment, I might add, which didn’t just occur at Oberman’s hands. When public figures behave like this, there are horrible consequences for the victim.” Lawson reports that, “the police have certainly been contacted… They’re currently investigating.”
Sivier poses a question regarding his lawsuit, “Why is this important?” He explains, “Perhaps worst of all is the fact that Ms Riley and Ms Oberman justify their behaviour by saying it is part of the fight against anti-Semitism. It is nothing of the sort. It is vital that this cynical manipulation of the debate on anti-Semitism should be fought. Bullying a school-age young person under the pretence of fighting anti-Semitism may lead to genuine hatred of Jews – on the grounds that they are using their ethnicity to seek unfair advantage over others.” Referring to Riley and Oberman Sivier then says, “if they get away with this, who else are they likely to victimise? Already we have seen multiple political attacks on the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, with accusations of anti-Semitism that have been proved false. Ms Riley is a part of that.” While the public remain myopically focused on one particular ethnic minority they are oblivious to the increasing problem of Islamophobia and the fact the Tories have pledged to target Gypsies!
The Media including the BBC have driven this faux outrage and not it is not just targeting adults it is persecuting young people as well. For me this incident crossed the line and was serious enough that Riley and Oberman should be dropped from all BBC programming with immediate effect, because to support their conduct sends a very dangerous message. These were two TV celebrities with a lot of powerful supporters, but the BBC must demonstrate zero tolerance towards those who bully and harass children. It is worth wading through Lawson’s lengthy article as it also contains important stats on anti-Semitism that represent evidence that cannot simply be ignored by EKRC. This crucial evidence strongly supports the Williamson Case against EHRC, the case targeting Corbyn and the Press Bang SLAPP as well. We are right on the brink of exposing all the lies that were used to legitimize the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. One more massive heave and the Tories will be out, Investigation or not, but we cannot give up the fight; : it’s not won yet! DO NOT MOVE ON!