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England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions >> Monir v Wood  EWHC 3525 (QB) (19 December 2018)
Cite as:  EWHC 3525 (QB)
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS LIST
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| Zahir Monir
|- and –
David Hirst (instructed by Humphreys & Co) for the Defendant
Hearing dates: 16-20 April and 3-5 July 2018
Crown Copyright ©
The Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin :
Sarah champion labour candidate for
Rotherham stood with 2 suspended child
grooming taxi drivers DO NOT VOTE
(Throughout this judgment, I set out various Tweets exactly as they appeared, so what may appear to be errors of spelling, grammar or punctuation appear in the original text.)
Bristol UKIP Branch
"It was a group of volunteers that I ran. We were a group of volunteers. There is no business activity there. We were not an agency. Nobody got paid. Nobody got expenses. If somebody didn't turn up to a meeting, yes, we got a bit narky, but I couldn't sack them for it. We had no contractual agreements and, therefore, I cannot be held responsible for somebody putting something on [Twitter]. With the greatest of respect to John [Langley], who is sat in this court, if John had posted these I didn't know about it. Why am I being held responsible for somebody else's actions?"
That perhaps neatly encapsulates Mr Wood's objection to (and sense of injustice of) being alleged to be responsible for the 4 May Tweet.
i) branches are responsible for their own actions (B.3.1);
ii) each branch would have a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer and those three would be members of the branch committee. Additional committee members could be elected by the branch up to a maximum of eight members in total (B.3.2.1);
iii) the Chairman has principal responsibility for the direction of the branch (B.3.8.1);
iv) branch committees should normally meet at least six times per year (B.4.1.1);
v) ordinary meetings of the whole branch could be convened as often as the committee thought appropriate (B.4.4) but an annual general meeting was required to be held each year between 1 October and 31 December (B.4.2.1);
vi) online conduct of members of UKIP was regulated as follows:
J.2.1 a UKIP publication is defined as any publication, whether physical or online, which bears the Party's name and/or logo which purports to represent the UK Independence Party;
J.2.2 apart from the exceptions detailed below, any UKIP publication must be authorised before it can be placed into the public domain…;
J.2.3 the following people may authorise a UKIP publication whose scope is national: the Party Leader, the Party Deputy Leader, the Party Chairman, the General Secretary and the Party Secretary;
J.2.4 in addition to the persons named in J.2.3, the Regional Organiser and the Chairman of the Regional Committee may authorise a UKIP publication whose scope is local or regional. A UKIP branch or constituency association may receive standing authorisation from an above named person to produce local UKIP publications for Council election campaigns…;
J.2.6 any member producing a publication shall be responsible for ensuring that it is compliant with Party policy, electoral law, the publishing requirements of the Electoral Commission, the Advertising Standards code of practice and the law relating to defamation…
J.3.1 for the purpose of these Rules of Procedure, 'online conduct' shall refer to any Facebook status or group, Twitter post, forum post, posting on any social media account, website, email, blog, article or other material published on the internet by a UKIP member…; and
J.4.4 any of the following people may require the immediate withdrawal of a member's online content: … the local Branch of Constituency association Chairman. Failure to withdraw content promptly shall be considered grounds for disciplinary action…
Bristol UKIP's Website and Social Media Accounts
i) Mr Langley said in his affidavit that he "took full control and responsibility of the Facebook and Twitter accounts";
ii) Mr Frost stated in his witness statement that, soon after he had joined the Bristol UKIP branch, Mr Langley was "given total exclusive control over the Branch's Facebook and Twitter accounts";
iii) Mr Turner stated that: "all social media activity was delegated to John Langley";
iv) Lara Cozens, a member who joined the Bristol UKIP branch in 2014, recalled a meeting at which it was decided that Mr Langley would be "solely responsible for the Branch's social media outreach" (it is not clear to which meeting she is referring); and
v) Daniel Fear, another member of the Bristol UKIP branch at the relevant time and subsequently Chairman, stated: "John Langley was tasked with the sole responsibility of managing the Branch's Twitter page and Facebook account".
"What's needed to be done [in the campaign] is to remind [the voters] why we are there. They are very community orientated and we need to remind them of Rotherham and the fact that it was Labour at the heart of it. We need to remind them that it's Labour that started selling off the NHS. We did very well last year in the elections."
The reference to Rotherham was to the child sexual exploitation scandal and the fact that the Council was controlled by Labour when it took place.
Instructions given to Mr Langley on Bristol UKIP's social media output
i) in "Guidance for Candidates" provided in 2014, members were warned:
"You must act in a manner befitting a person in public office and avoid any action/writing/speaking that brings Bristol UKIP or UKIP in general into disrepute or leaves it liable to legal action."
ii) the minutes of the meeting on 3 January 2015 (see  above) record that Mr Wood had stressed that nothing should be posted on social media that was racist or homophobic, there were to be no 'slanging matches' and he warned people to "remember your dignity".
"I made it plainly clear, no racist attacks, xenophobic attacks, no homophobic attacks, no attacks personally. I made it perfectly clear, every single meeting, this was to be a clean ship. I detest dirty politics… If you look at my campaign, my campaign was inclusive. There is nothing in my campaign which is racist, homophobic, xenophobic at all…"
"I was asked to exercise care in what I published on Facebook and Twitter and not to post anything which might harm UKIP's interests or might be unlawful. In addition, when [Mr Wood] became Chairman, [he] made it clear to all members (including me) that he would not tolerate any form of racism or xenophobia within Bristol UKIP… [Mr Wood] kept telling members (me included) that he wanted a clean-up within the Bristol UKIP when he became Chairman… [and] kept telling members (me included) that he did not want any member to make personal attacks on any individuals and that he wanted a clean fight in the next General Election. I understood these branch-wide house rules…"
When re-examined Mr Langley said:
"… there was a general guidance not to publish anything which is racist or too contentious, very vague guidelines, but it was very much, I think, I was left to my own devices to decide what was appropriate and what wasn't."
Bristol UKIP Tweets prior to the 4 May Tweet
i) On 11 February 2015, Bristol UKIP retweeted a link to an article in the Birmingham Mail: "Woolfenden on £85k for job he failed in Rotherham".
ii) On 13 February 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted: "Camden Ukip chairman says 'Islam is organised crime' comment is backed up by Quran".
In cross-examination, Mr Wood said that he would not have allowed this Tweet if he had known about it: "I didn't know about it. I don't agree with it, but I didn't post it."
iii) On 18 February 2015, in reference to a bus that the Labour party was using to target women's issues in the election, Bristol UKIP Tweeted: "Labour to dress bus in Burka to attract muslim vote".
Mr Wood stated: "I didn't know that was there and I would not have been happy with it".
iv) On 28 February 2015, Bristol UKIP retweeted a link to an article appearing in the Daily Star with the words: "Sex gang victims were sacrificed to avoid Labour losing votes in the Asian community".
v) On 3 March 2015, Bristol UKIP retweeted a link to a website, mancunianmatters.co.uk: "MP Simon Danczuk pocketed £16,000 from Rochdale child abuse exposé" and also a reference to the Daily Telegraph with the words: "300 victims groomed and assaulted".
vi) On 7 March 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted a link to breitbart.com: "ISLAMIST SYMPATHISER LAUNCHES 'MUSLIM MANIFESTO' IN BRITISH PARLIAMENT".
Asked about this Tweet, Mr Wood said:
"… I didn't post these. I didn't authorise these and if we're looking at this, again we're looking at March 2015, I was running a business… I was campaigning. I did not have the time to monitor everything that went out and I cannot be held responsible for somebody else's actions"
vii) On 13 March 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted a picture of a front-page headline from The Sun: "Labour chief: It's OK to have sex with 10-yr-olds".
viii) On 16 March 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted a link to a YouTube video: "TRUE FACE OF ISLAM THE VIDEO LABOUR DID NOT WANT LEAKED".
ix) On 25 March 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted a photograph of a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf carrying a placard that read "UKIP go home" with the comment added in the body of the Tweet "hahahahaha". One of the responses to the Tweet posted the same day was "LOL there's only one body there that needs 2go home. She should take that sick rag off her head or fk off back".
Mr Santos put to Mr Wood that this was the sort of response that Mr Langley's Tweets provoked. Mr Wood said: "I totally accept that that's disgusting… and I do accept that it should have been taken down".
x) On 29 March 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted a link to a website, "sharia unveiled": "95% of Child Rape and Molestation Convictions in the UK Were Committed by Muslims".
xi) On 30 March 2015, Bristol UKIP Tweeted a link to the Mail Online: "Muslim husbands with more than one wife to get extra benefits as ministers recognise polygamy".
i) On 20 February 2015, a photograph of Mr Wood standing next to an election banner ("the Banner Photo") was Tweeted with the words:
#BRISTOLUKIP STEVE WOOD
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
ii) On 8 March 2015, another photograph of Mr Wood was Tweeted with the words:
stevewood.org.uk #ukip bristol candidate
iii) Also on 8 March 2015, an image similar to an election poster was Tweeted. It contained two UKIP logos superimposed over a Union flag with the words: "VOTE FOR REAL CHANGE IN BRISTOL SOUTH VOTE UKIP VOTE STEVE WOOD". The words accompanying that image in the Tweet were:
Lets get some real change in South Bristol. Positive Change.
iv) The Banner Photo was Tweeted again, on 5 April 2015, with the words:
Vote Steve Wood, South Bristol #ukip
v) A Tweet on 24 April 2015 included the Banner Photo in an election poster image with the words appearing on the right: "VOTE FOR STEVE WOOD IN BRISTOL SOUTH ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, ITS NOW TIME FOR CHANGE".
vi) On 25 April 2015, the Bristol UKIP Twitter account sent out a series of Tweets identifying the UKIP candidates that were standing for election, including Mr Wood in Bristol South.
vii) On 29 April 2015, another election poster image was Tweeted. It contained a central UKIP logo imposed over a Union Flag. Mr Wood's photograph was on the right of the logo and on the left the words: "STEVE WOOD THE BRISTOL SOUTH CANDIDATE FOR UKIP. THE MAN TO MAKE THE CHANGES".
viii) On 6 May 2015, the day before the general election, there was an understandable flurry of activity on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. The only candidate who was specifically promoted in these Tweets was Mr Wood.
Mr Wood's use of Twitter
"I do not recall posting any tweets via the Branch's Twitter account at any time. While I am familiar with Facebook, which I use for Able's business marketing, I do not know much at all technically about how to use Twitter. I would need to be taught or have it demonstrated to me. I do not use Twitter and was not able to monitor the Branch's Twitter account. I did not have the Twitter app installed on my phone or computer or other device."
i) Mr Wood initially stated in evidence that he did not Tweet via the Able Investigations Twitter account and that it was operated by a combination of a marketing company and his son. However, Mr Santos took Mr Wood to several Tweets on the Able Investigations Twitter account the contents of which strongly suggested they had been written and posted by him. For example:
a) 28 February 2012, in response to a Tweet from @Hutchison_Law: "Paul, we would happily take services as well. Thanks Steve."
Asked whether he Tweeted that, Mr Wood responded: "That could have been the marketing company. They had authority…" Asked again whether it was him personally: "I don't think so, but cannot be 100% certain".
b) 4 March 2012, again in response to another Tweet: "celebrating 21st wedding anniversary. Back tomorrow."
Mr Wood responded: "That was possibly me". Mr Santos put it to him that it was him. Mr Wood repeated: "That was possibly me". When challenged about his earlier evidence that he had not Tweeted on the Able Investigations Twitter account, Mr Wood said: "No, I've never said I didn't Tweet on it totally. I did in the beginning a couple of times…"
c) On 18 March 2012, the Able Investigations Twitter account retweeted a Tweet from Nigel Farage.
Asked whether that retweet was done by him or the marketing company, Mr Wood replied: "I can't recall posting that, but the marketing company knew my leanings so they could have done". Mr Santos asked him whether he was really suggesting that a marketing company would retweet a post of Nigel Farage on behalf of Able Investigations. Mr Wood replied: "The marketing company is owned by a friend of mine, so he knows me fully well."
d) 28 May 2012: "Is at a meeting with Nigel Farge" followed by a Retweet of a Tweet by Christine Hamilton: "Standing room only at terrific #UKIP meeting with @Nigel_Farage. Local tories sent 'spies' – they're right to be scared… Very scared";
As a result of the layout of Tweets, Mr Santos asked Mr Wood about the Retweet first and suggested that he had retweeted it. Mr Wood answered: "Not necessarily by me" before adding, "you say it's by me. I will accept it's a retweet by Able Investigations but that doesn't mean it was by me… it could have been anybody on – who had our account. Just because it was retweeted doesn't mean it was stuff done by me." Mr Santos then drew Mr Wood's attention to the immediately preceding Tweet about the meeting with Nigel Farage. Mr Wood accepted that he had Tweeted that. Mr Santos put to him the obvious inference that the Tweet and retweet were sent by the same person, to which Mr Wood responded: "Not necessarily".
This is an example of Mr Wood seeking to argue the case rather than answering questions in a straightforward way. It is perfectly plain, from their contents, that the two messages were posted at roughly the same time, by the same person, referring to the same event. Mr Wood accepted that he posted the first Tweet and it would have been extraordinary (and a remarkable coincidence) if someone else had taken it upon him/herself to retweet a political Tweet from Christine Hamilton on the Able Investigations Twitter account.
e) 12 June 2012: "After a full day of exams yesterday I am taking a week off from studying, back to it next week. Now sitting on pins to see if I passed".
Mr Santos asked Mr Wood whether he posted that. This was the exchange:
A. It was - it could have been posted on my behalf but I'll accept what you say.
Q. No, it's not - you don't have to accept what I say. It's your evidence. If you don't accept it, then tell the court that you don't accept it. Was it you or was it not?
A. Some of these were me, yes.
Q. Was that tweet you or was it not?
f) 1 May 2013, in response to the Tweet of another user: "times are changing Dan, I maybe a Bristol councillor tomorrow".
Suggesting that he had been the author, Mr Santos put to Mr Wood that he was standing for election at this time. Again, I should set out the full exchange:
A. That could have been me, yes.
Q. It could have been you or it was you?
A. It could have been me.
Q. There was nobody else at Able Investigations standing for councillor, was there?
A. No, but, as I've said, my son also worked with me.
ii) Overall, Mr Wood's answers in cross-examination as to the extent to which he accepted that he had personally Tweeted using the Able Investigations account were unimpressive. Mr Wood was forced to abandon his initial evidence that he had not Tweeted using the Able Investigations account when confronted with clear evidence of him doing so. He suggested that a marketing company or his son may have been responsible for some Tweets. They may have been, but having reviewed the Twitter output from Able Investigations generally, I am satisfied that it was clearly being used by Mr Wood personally over a three-year period. Alongside clearly business-related output, there were Tweets that were personal - even chatty – and which provided a narrative of events in his and his family's life. Although he did finally accept over 25 instances where he had personally Tweeted, generally Mr Wood fenced questions that were put to him and, at times (e.g. the Christine Hamilton retweet), he gave answers that lacked credibility.
iii) As to his Tweeting on the Bristol UKIP account, Mr Wood had stated in his witness statement that he did not recall posting any Tweets. After having been cross-examined on examples of Tweets, similar to those from the Able Investigations account, apparently written by him (some in the first person), in re-examination Mr Wood gave a "guestimate" that he Tweeted on the Bristol UKIP account no more than 20-25 times. When cross-examined, Mr Langley stated that Mr Wood did Tweet "very occasionally".
iv) When Mr Santos suggested to Mr Wood that the evidence of his Twitter activity both on behalf of Able Investigations and Bristol UKIP contradicted what he had stated in paragraph 38 of his witness statement, Mr Wood gave very unimpressive answers.
Q. Let's go back to your witness statement … [paragraph 38]: "I do not recall posting any tweets via the branch's Twitter account at any time. While I'm familiar with Facebook, which I use for Able business marketing, I do not know much at all technically about how to use Twitter". That is just a lie, isn't it, Mr Wood?
A. No, technically I don't know much about Twitter at all, but if you fill out a box to post something it's very similar to Facebook.
Q. The next sentence, "I will need to be taught or have it demonstrated to me". That's another lie?
A. No. As I said, technically, I know not a lot about Twitter and I would need to be taught the schematics of it. To fill out a text box and hit post, an idiot can do.
Q. Mr Wood, let's look at the context. You are saying that you do not recall posting any tweets via the branch's Twitter account at any time, that's your evidence?
A. That's my evidence, yes, and I ---
Q. And in support of that evidence you say, I will - "I don't know much at all technically about how to use Twitter. I'd need to be taught or have it demonstrated to me".
A. The schematics, yes…
Q. The schematics? What do you mean by the schematics?
A. Well, anybody can fill out a box and fill text in and hit post but, if you're actually looking at the schematics, I don't understand the technicality of it at all.
Q. What do you mean by the schematics?
A. Well, if you're actually going to look into a product, if you're going to use it, you need to understand how it works. I understand how Facebook works, so I know how to post stuff, how to retweet - repost stuff on Facebook, but Twitter I know very little about how to put stuff on there.
Q. But, Mr Wood, I've shown you about 30 tweets by you and about ten retweets by you?
A. Not all of the retweets were by me, not all the posts were by me.
Q. But you agreed that ---
A. I agreed that some of them were by me.
Q. So, you knew how to use Twitter?
A. I filled in the text box and I hit post.
Q. You knew how to use Twitter?
A. I filled in the text box and hit post; if that's knowing how to use Twitter, then yes…
Q. Then the next sentence, "I do not use Twitter".
A. I don't use Twitter ---
Q. Another lie?
A. No, I don't use Twitter anymore.
Q. Anymore? You didn't use the word "anymore" in your witness statement?
A. Well, we've seen that I used some tweets in early 2011 and 2012. I haven't used it since 2012/13. I don't use Twitter.
v) Mr Wood is an intelligent man. I am satisfied that he fully appreciated that his witness statement did not give an accurate account of his use and experience of and proficiency with Twitter.
Conclusions as to the operation of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account
i) The Bristol UKIP Twitter account was set up by Mr Wood on 1 April 2013 and it was registered using his email address. At that point, Mr Wood had effective and sole control of the Twitter account. He could post himself using the account or he could authorise others to use the account by providing them with the login details. At all times, ultimate control remained vested in Mr Wood because his email was registered to the account. By resetting the password, he could reclaim sole control of the Bristol UKIP account and effectively lock out any other person to whom he had previously given the password.
ii) Whatever power Mr Wood had, as Chairman of the branch, to control Mr Langley's Twitter output on the Bristol UKIP account (see e.g. J.4.4 – [9(vi)] above), practically he had the power to curtail Mr Langley's ability to post at any time by changing the account password. In the same way, and at all times, he retained the power to delete any of Mr Langley's Tweets.
iii) At some point, the login details of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account were given by Mr Wood to other committee members of Bristol UKIP. The details were provided, not in anticipation that any of them would use the account to Tweet (and there is no evidence that any of them did), but to enable them to access the account if the need arose.
iv) Mr Wood was fully proficient in using Twitter although he posted only occasionally, and infrequently, on the UKIP Bristol Twitter account.
v) Responsibility for operating the Bristol UKIP Twitter account was given to Mr Langley after Mr Frost's election in May 2014. He was provided with the login details and, as Campaign Manager, was given and assumed responsibility for posting material on behalf of Bristol UKIP via the Twitter (and Facebook) accounts. From May 2014, Mr Wood delegated control and operation of the Bristol UKIP Twitter to Mr Langley to be used by him as a social media channel to promote Bristol UKIP.
vi) Although, initially, Mr Wood had given instructions to Mr Langley (which Mr Langley had accepted) that he was required to submit any content he was proposing to post on Bristol UKIP's social media accounts for approval ("the Prior Approval Instruction"), that system was never observed in practice. It was Mr Wood's choice not to enforce the Prior Approval Instruction.
vii) The Bristol UKIP Twitter account operated as the campaigning platform for Mr Wood in the run up to the 2015 general election. Although the account did not exclusively promote Mr Wood's candidacy, he was the main focus of the campaigning activity on the platform. Mr Wood delegated to Mr Langley the task of promoting him and his candidacy in the election.
viii) In the run up to the 4 May Tweet, Mr Langley was a loose cannon and was posting material, through both the Bristol UKIP and the Frost Report Twitter accounts, that was in clear contravention of Mr Wood's standing instructions against, particularly, racism.
ix) I do not accept, however, that Mr Wood was aware that Mr Langley was doing this. I am quite satisfied that, had Mr Wood become aware, particularly of the Tweets he was cross-examined about, he would have deleted them. Mr Wood may be open to criticism on the basis that he should have been aware of what Mr Langley was posting. He was Chairman of UKIP Bristol (and bore ultimate responsibility for the actions of the branch); he was standing for election as an MP; Mr Langley was using the UKIP Bristol social media platforms to campaign for him; and, most significantly, to his knowledge, Mr Langley had been acting in an increasingly erratic way and specifically had posted the racist material on the Frost Report Twitter account at the end of April, some 10 days before the election.
The events leading up to the 4 May Tweet
"In March 2015, John resurfaced turning up at my offices in Able. He was in the company with (sic) a young adult female, who by my estimation was no older than 25 and appeared to me to be high on some sort of substance use. John is around 50 years old. I could tell that John was infatuated with her by the way in which he referred to her. I was extremely annoyed that John had shot off without warning at such a critical time. I asked John where he was the past month. John told me that he met this young lady online in a chat room and he went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. John then said that he and this young lady decided to get married.
I was shocked. I regret to say that this was the start of John's downfall, at least from his position of trust and esteem within the Branch. We did not see clearly at the time that his behaviour would become erratic and unpredictable – this appeared to use as an eccentric blip. I asked John about the nomination papers and what had happened to them. John stated that he would bring them to the next meeting. The next meeting was to be the last week of March 2015 where we would plan for the month ahead.
That meeting was held and again John turned up with his partner. In fact, John now referred to her as his 'slave'. I explained to John that her turning up at our meeting was totally inappropriate. I openly told John that his partner could stay this time but she was not to be invited to any further meetings, as she was not a Committee member and she was not a member of UKIP. John took umbrage but grudgingly accepted that his girlfriend/wife could not attend future meetings."
"… around 9 April 2015, the Branch learned through the press that John had also made a sex video with a University of the West of England student on campus and a sex video of John engaging in oral sex with her at Castle Park, Bristol. UWE were up in arms about the video filmed on their campus without their consent. The Committee members at the Branch were furious. What goes on behind closed doors between consulting adults is one thing, but making a porn film in public where there were possibly children and young people around was not acceptable.
Inevitably the media approached John about both sex videos. John engaged with them without agreeing with the Branch what he might say. This I felt represented a risk to any success which we might achieve. He was enjoying the notoriety too much, I sensed. Consequently, I sent John an email stating that the Branch was unhappy and concerned with his actions. In it, I asked him not to make any public statements and told him that he was not to do any more media interviews…
John seemed to like the limelight and took no notice of the Branch's request. Contrary to our request, John agreed to do TV and newspapers interviews. It became clear that John loved the attention. I did not move to try to sack or remove John then, as for practical reasons the General Election was almost upon us and I felt there was no time to attend to something like that. All the time he was producing election output, and the immediate run-up to an election is considered critical, as many decide how to vote at the last minute. It was however clear that collectively the Branch would need to look at John's position after the election was out of the way, as he risked bringing us into disrepute."
"I had just come home from a Council meeting when I decided to log onto @TheFrostReport at about 11.45pm and check what had been uploaded that day… [T]o my absolute dismay, I saw several verses from the Quran and a tirade of abuse toward followers of Islam. The post, I remember, mentioned 72 virgins with a number of other comments which appeared to be broadly anti-Islamic. I was in little doubt that this represented the kind of material which would cast UKIP in a bad light and would only set us back…"
"I reprimanded John telling him that this was not the sort of thing I expected to come from him. The publicity which he had so far brought about had been sex-related, and nothing had suggested that he had anti-Islamic beliefs. I warned John specifically that he was never to post any type of material like this again. I also asked John whether he had any recent problems and whether he had taken his eye off the ball. I also told John that although the Branch had defended his choice of adult entertainment work, I thought what he did in his personal life was beginning to bring Bristol UKIP into disrepute. This included the student sex video and his erratic behaviour with his younger girlfriend. The reply I receive from John was a verbal torrent of abuse back at me…"
Q. And he should not have been running the Twitter account that was effectively campaigning on your behalf?
A. I accept that, and hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Q. And yet pid:851you decided not to drop him, and the reason for that was political expediency?
A. Not particularly, no. The reason I didn't do anything about it at that particular time, as I mentioned earlier, we were driving to Stevenage twice a week, I was running a pid:901business, and we were trying to run an election.
Q. The reason - that is exactly the reason, Mr Wood, you did not want to lose his role of publishing tweets days before an election?
A. Yes, but nobody publishes negative information about their party before an pid:951election. Nobody.
Q. So, you did not want to lose the Twitter account before the election, you needed it to keep publishing tweets?
A. The Twitter account was the last thing on my mind, Mr Santos. The first thing on my mind was trying to get pid:1001my daughter well.
Q. …You were aware that he risked bringing you and the branch into disrepute?
A. There was that possibility, yes.
Q. Then the fact is that you allowed that risk to remain through to the election, regardless of the reasons?
A. We tried to monitor it until after the elections.
"To the best of my recollection, there were no problems with my management of the Bristol UKIP Facebook and Twitter accounts… I believe the Committee trusted me and my experience of using social media to communicate the party's message nationwide in a proper way."
This is one of a number of peculiarities in Mr Langley's affidavit, to which I shall return below (-).
i) The minutes of the meeting on 21 May 2015, attended by Mr Wood and Mr Frost, contain the following reference to the problems with Mr Langley:
"[Michael Frost] mentioned that during the elections, [Mr Langley] published racist comments on Facebook, Twitter and the Frost Report. This was against a directive that [Mr Langley] should not post anything unless [Mr Wood] okayed it first… [Mr Wood] asked for a no-confidence vote on [Mr Langley] as vice chair… Overall vote was unanimous."
ii) At the meeting on 18 July 2015, again attended by Mr Wood and Mr Frost, the branch voted to remove Mr Langley from his post as vice chairman. The minutes record:
"[Mr Wood] mentioned the issue the Committee had with [Mr Langley]. He began by saying that [Mr Langley] today is not the same [Mr Langley] as last year, who was then a rock solid member and a fantastic Vice-Chair, who worked very hard to get to where he was. Unfortunately, he has now gone down a path where he has posted anti-Muslim rants on u-Tube (sic), Facebook and Twitter.
The Committee knew [Mr Langley] made a living from filming porn and was okay with it, because what's done behind closed doors is down to personal choice, provided nobody gets hurt and it's within the Law.
However, in the run-up to the elections it was brought to the Committee's attention that [Mr Langley] had posted a video on the internet of himself receiving oral sex in the middle of Castle Park. This is clearly a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act. The matter was not dealt with at the time, due to the possibility of the press getting to hear about it…
In June, South Yorkshire Police contacted [Mr Wood] in their investigation of this matter as a 'hate crime'. [Mr Wood] immediately removed the picture from Twitter, as requested by SYP and blocked [Mr Langley] from using the account…"
The events following the 4 May Tweet
i) On 8 May 2015:
a) at 11.30am, a call lasting 58 seconds to Facebook;
b) at 11.33am, a call lasting 1 minute 40 seconds to directory enquires costing £10.20 which may suggest an onward connection to an undisclosed number;
c) at 12.27pm, a call lasting 1 minute 7 seconds to Bristol UKIP's registered 0845 number; and
d) at 2.27pm, a call lasting 15 minutes 10 seconds to the police (see  below).
ii) On 11 May 2015, two calls at 2.48pm to Bristol UKIP's registered 0845 number; the first lasting 5 seconds and the second 54 seconds.
Calls to Bristol UKIP's 0845 number diverted automatically to Mr Wood's mobile phone.
i) In his Defence, dated 17 October 2016, Mr Wood said:
"On or around 6 May 2015, [I] began to receive calls on [my] mobile telephone… from a withheld number. The caller would not give any name and shouted hysterically at [me] as soon as the call was answered to the effect that [I] had published a photograph referring to the caller as a paedophile. [I] tried to take the caller's details and ascertain the precise nature of the problem but was unable to break the caller's hysterical flow of ranted threats and repeated claims that a photograph had said he was a paedophile. The caller repeatedly stated he was going to cut off [my] head. Finding the caller insensible, [I] hung up. Later the same day, [I] received a second call from the same anonymous caller which continued the stream of screamed threats that the caller was going to kill [me] in respect of a photograph. Once again, [I]… hung up again. The caller did not explain that the photograph was connected with [my] UKIP activities or with Twitter. The calls resumed some days later, with the same caller as hysterical as the calls on 6 May and continuing to refuse to provide a name when asked, or engage in questions about what he was referring to. In this context, and after being repeatedly threatened and screamed at by someone who would not or was incapable of clearly communicating their problem, [I] told the caller to 'piss off' if he was not going to explain what his problem was so that [I] could understand."
ii) In his witness statement for this action, dated 8 November 2017, Mr Wood said:
"From about 6 May 2015 to the last week of May 2015, I received a number of calls from an anonymous male caller, which I now realise are related to the Twitter publication at the centre of these proceedings. I did not make that connection when I was receiving the calls. The calls ranged in duration from an estimated 1.5 minutes long to a few seconds. The first phone call I received on or around 6 May 2015 was harassing to me. The male caller did not introduce himself and remained anonymous. He started by and simply kept shouting an accusation that I had called him a paedophile. The first call proceeded this way, as I recall:
Caller: I am going to come and cut your fucking head off!" (There was no lead up to this. The caller launched straight into this threat)
Me: Hang on, hang on, hang on a minute. What are you on about?
Caller: I am going to come and cut your fucking head off you cunt!
(further repeated vitriol from the caller and me trying to clarify and calm him down)
Caller: You said I am a paedophile! I am going to kill you!
(After repeated vitriol and accusations from the caller and me trying to clarify and calm him down)
Me: Look if you are not going to talk to me sensibly, then I am going to put the phone down!
I then disconnected the call… Later that day, I received a second call from a withheld number. The caller sounded like the same caller from my first call, with the same Yorkshire accent… [and he] again repeated his accusation that I called him a paedophile and he threatened to cut my head off. This call was much shorter in duration that the first call as when I realised that I was unable to get any sense out of this person once again, I simply hung up….
A few days later, I received another call again from a withheld number. The caller again sounded like the male caller from the two previous anonymous calls. Again, I questioned him 'what he was on about' and again I only received threats and the same accusation that I called him a paedophile. This made no sense to me as I knew I had not accused anyone of being a paedophile anywhere and could hardly conceive that anyone working for Able to have done so, for any reason. By this time I was getting frustrated with this repeated irate inexplicable calling.
Over the next few days, I received a further 6 or 7 calls to my mobile phone… It did not matter what I said to the caller. The conversation was always the same – it started with irate exasperated shouting followed by the same blunt accusations and the lack of detail followed by threats about how the caller was going to kill me… By this time, I had concluded that there seemed to be no reasonable explanation for these calls other than prank or harassing calls that were concerned with an eviction or a case of mistaken identity.
The final call came through in the last week of May 2015. In this final call, the caller said that a group of people were going to come to Bristol and kill me. The caller said that he knew where I lived and that people were coming to kill me. At this point, I still had no idea as to why the caller was accusing me of calling him a paedophile…"
"I have just returned to Sheffield after working in Coventry today, and due to set off to London shortly. I wanted to make you aware that just prior to me leaving I have double checked my emails and came across one that I was not aware of or had forgotten. It relates to a reply from Mr Steve Wood which is fairly pertinent to the case. I have only just discovered it now but wanted to bring it to your attention. I have printed off a hard copy to bring with me."
"When I spoke to PC Wood, he explained that there was a picture, which had been placed on Twitter by Branch which the Police were investigating as a hate crime… PC Wood further explained that the post called 2 persons, who were standing next to an MP, paedophiles. My first reaction was 'what picture?'. PC Wood then directed me to the link on his email. During the call with PC Wood, Mr Monir's name was not mentioned. No requests were made by PC Wood save for his request that the referred tweet should be deleted… [W]hilst on the phone with PC Wood, I logged on to the Twitter account, having looked up my original administrator access, and looked for the post. I found the post and saw the picture and read the text with it. I finally understood why the Tweet was being complained about and got around to delete it whilst PC Wood was still on the phone with me…
During the call, I did not form the link that someone had made threatening calls to me because of the tweet. It was only after I put the phone down that the penny dropped that the ravings and threats I had received in the anonymous withheld calls must have been the same matter…"
"I have contacted the Bristol UKIP Chairman Steve Wood… asking for the offensive Tweet to be removed, which has now been done. I have been told that the Vice-Chair [name redacted, but clearly Mr Langley] was suspected to be responsible for the post, but has since been sacked from the party on 18 May, due to posting 5 other offensive posts and a separate act of party gross misconduct… Steve Wood stated that a male phoned him 3 weeks ago, being abusive on the phone demanding the Tweet be taken down, although he hung up before he could find out who it was. Mr Wood believed that all the offensive Tweets were removed until being informed by myself."
"Thank you for your email, firstly I can confirm that the post has been taken down from twitter. If I may introduce myself, I am Steve Wood, the Chairman of the Bristol Branch of UKIP. Up until 18th May the Bristol Branch Twitter account was run by the Vice chair of the branch, during the run up to the elections the VC started to act inappropriately by posting number of Tweets which the committee deemed to be unsuitable for publication these we immediately removed and his access blocked. I regret to say that I missed this one, however a week after the election the VC was removed from his post and a complaint has gone into to National office applying to have his membership cancelled, we are awaiting a decision on that one.
However, that being said I am not sure who your complainant is, but if it is one of the males in the picture this could have been dealt with in a quicker manner. I received two calls from a male who stated that his photo was on our Twitter account, I asked what photo and who I was taking to, the male refused to give his name and stated that I should "Fucking Know" what photo he was talking about, it was also said that If I refused to remove it he would come down to Bristol to sort me out. On the second occasion that the male phoned, I again received a torrent of verbal abuse, informing me that if the photo did not come down he would take my Fucking head off. Once again I asked him what photo (I don't do twitter so rarely on it) to which I again received further abuse, at this stage I will admit to putting the phone down. On both occasions the phone number was withheld, therefore I was unable to identify the caller, or assist further.
The VC Chair has been removed from his post and banned for having any interaction with party activities in Bristol or nationally, we trust that this is sufficient to put a stop to any further line of enquiry. As for me I made no report of these incidents as I receive threats quite regularly working in the sector that I do, so its water off a ducks back. Had the person responded to me with the details, and no verbal abuse or threats to my personal safety, I would have worked with them to clear this matter up within minutes
Just one question if I may, I note that your email related to a Hate Crime, as far as I can see and having checked up with 2015 Blackstone's, the photo nor text made no reference to any persons nationality or religion, it also stated "Suspected" So how can it be referred to as a hate crime.
Thanks for your time in this matter and if I can help further please do not hesitate to contact me.
"… I told the Defendant that he could 'stuff it', that I would not follow his instruction, and that if someone wanted to put up a battle, I would be happy to put up a battle with them. I do not know what the Defendant then went on to do about taking the tweet down."
"… in the interests of early disclosure and to promote the prospect of early compromise of your client's claim, we enclose a copy of the affidavit of John Langley…"
Conclusions as to Mr Wood's knowledge of the 4 May Tweet
i) I cannot reach a clear decision as to the number of calls that were made by Mr Monir to Mr Wood, but the evidence clearly supports the conclusion that there was at least one material call made to Mr Wood by Mr Monir in the period between 6-8 May. In his call to the police on 8 May 2015, the transcript records Mr Monir as having said that he had telephoned Bristol UKIP and "they put the phone down on me". The phone records suggest that Mr Monir may have spoken to Mr Wood more than the once that he said he had made in his first witness statement.
ii) During the material call (or calls, if there were more than one), Mr Monir clearly told Mr Wood (and Mr Wood clearly understood) that he was complaining about a posting on the UKIP Twitter account (Log Entry and 1 June Email); which published his photograph (Mr Wood's Defence; and the 1 June Email); and which suggested that he was a paedophile (Mr Wood's Defence and Witness Statement).
iii) On the evidence, the call may well have been heated and Mr Monir may have used abusive language towards Mr Wood. I do not accept Mr Monir's evidence that he remained calm during the call. It is likely that the call was heated, and that Mr Monir may well have been irate (as he had been described by PS Wood in his note of his call with Mr Monir – see  above). However, I reject Mr Wood's claim that Mr Monir's complaint was incomprehensible. I consider that it is likely that the manner in which Mr Monir complained to Mr Wood, and the challenge to his authority, angered Mr Wood and led him to adopt a dismissive attitude towards Mr Monir and his complaint culminating in him putting the phone down. Mr Wood's claim, in his call with PS Wood, that it was Mr Monir that had put the phone down before Mr Wood was able to get further details from him was false. But it is a telling lie. It was offered as a defence of his not having done anything about the complaint he had received.
iv) Mr Wood did not take the complaint seriously; for him it was an experience of another person ringing him up and abusing him. It was 'water off a duck's back'.
v) I reject Mr Wood's evidence that he had made no connection between the complaint and the Tweet until he was contacted by PS Wood. The Log Entry and the 1 June Email both demonstrate that Mr Wood told PS Wood that, some three weeks previously, he had been contacted by a man about a Tweet on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account.
vi) I do not consider that Mr Monir made the repeated abusive calls that Mr Wood suggests he made at points through to the end of May. Mr Wood made no complaint to the officer that he had been subjected to a barrage of abusive calls that had included repeated threats to kill him (the most recent of which had only happened a matter of days prior to the call with the officer). In the context of the discussion that took place between Mr Wood and the officer on 1 June, I am quite satisfied that Mr Wood would have mentioned these threatening phone calls had he believed that they were made by Mr Monir. In the 1 June Email he told PS Wood that he had received just two calls from the person complaining about a Tweet on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. Other witnesses called by Mr Wood corroborated the fact that Mr Wood had received threatening calls. Whatever further threatening calls Mr Wood received during the latter part of May they were not made by Mr Monir. The likelihood is that any further abusive calls were connected to and as a result of Mr Wood's work as a bailiff (possibly in response to the recent eviction of protesters).
vii) Parts of Mr Wood's account of his telephone call with PS Wood () are inconsistent with the contemporaneous documents. I prefer the evidence in the documents. On the basis of those documents, I find that Mr Wood told PS Wood:
a) that Mr Langley had been sacked from the party for posting 5 other offensive posts; and
b) that Mr Wood had been contacted 3 weeks prior to the call by someone demanding that the Tweet be taken down.
The statement that Mr Langley had been sacked was not accurate. At the 21 May 2015 meeting, a vote of no confidence in Mr Langley had been passed. It was not until 18 July 2015 that UKIP Bristol voted to remove Mr Langley from his post as vice chairman.
viii) The 4 May Tweet was deleted by Mr Wood whilst he was speaking on the telephone with PS Wood on 1 June 2015. Mr Langley's account of his being telephoned by Mr Wood and asked to remove it () is not true.
ix) From the 1 June Email, it is clear that Mr Wood told PS Wood that, at least by 18 May 2015, he (with others at Bristol UKIP) had identified several other offensive Tweets posted by Mr Langley that had been deleted. Mr Wood also claimed that Mr Langley's access had been "blocked". Neither Mr Wood nor Mr Langley in their evidence have suggested that Mr Langley's access to Twitter or other Bristol UKIP social media accounts was restricted prior to Mr Wood's call with PS Wood. In the minutes of the 18 July 2015 meeting (see [50(ii)]), Mr Wood is recorded as saying that he had blocked Mr Langley's access to the Bristol UKIP Twitter account after being contacted by the police. Mr Frost, in his evidence stated that the first he knew of any further issue with Mr Langley's social media posts for Bristol UKIP was after Mr Wood was contacted by the police. There is no mention in the statements of any of the Bristol UKIP witnesses of any sort of social media purge in mid- to late-May and there is no reference to this in the minutes of the Bristol UKIP meetings.
The Issues for determination
i) What is the meaning of the 4 May Tweet?
ii) Did the 4 May Tweet refer, and was it understood to refer, to Mr Monir?
iii) Is Mr Wood responsible for publication of the 4 May Tweet?
iv) Did publication of the 4 May Tweet cause serious harm to Mr Monir's reputation?
v) Remedies (if appropriate).
ISSUE 1: MEANING
i) the natural and ordinary meaning is the objective meaning that the hypothetical ordinary reasonable reader would understand 4 May Tweet to bear – Lachaux -v- Independent Print Limited  QB 402 [15(2)] per Davis LJ;
ii) the single natural and ordinary meaning is assessed by the court using the principles identified in Jeynes -v- News Magazines Limited  EWCA (Civ) 130  per Sir Anthony Clark MR;
iii) in assessing meaning no evidence beyond the words complained of is admissible – Charleston -v- News Group  2 AC 65, 70 per Lord Bridge; and
iv) there are broadly three types of defamatory allegation: (1) that the claimant is guilty of the act; (2) that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the claimant is guilty of the act; and (3) that there are grounds to investigate whether the claimant has committed the act: Chase –v- News Group Newspapers Ltd  EMLR 11  per Brooke LJ. In the lexicon of defamation, these have come to be known as the Chase levels. They are not a straitjacket, forcing the court to select one of these prescribed levels of meaning, but they are a helpful shorthand: Brown -v- Bower  EMLR 9 .
The Parties' Submissions
ISSUE 2: REFERENCE
"I would not be prepared, without at least fuller argument than has been appropriate today, to adopt the proposition derived by Hunt J. from earlier Australian authority in the case of Barbaro -v- Amalgamated Television Services that there is a difference of principle between the identification of a claimant by publishing his name and by publishing his picture; a difference such that in the latter case he must be able to give particulars of persons who have identified him before he can be said to have a sustainable case that the publication referred to him. I can see at present no logical or factual distinction between the two. Identification by appearance can, it seems to me, be at least as potent and as direct as identification by name. Either, in a particular case, may be sufficiently plain to fall for no elaboration by particulars or by evidence. Either, by contrast, may require pleading and proof of extrinsic facts to establish that publication was of and concerning the claimant."
i) a solely inferential case - typically publication in a mass circulation newspaper, where, in the particular circumstances, the claimant contends that there must have been at least some publishees who would have known the facts from which an ordinary reasonable reader would conclude that the defamatory publication referred to him: Fullam -v- Newcastle Chronicle and Journal  1 WLR 651, 659A per Scarman LJ;
ii) direct evidence - witnesses can be called by the claimant to give evidence that they knew the relevant facts and understood the publication to refer to the claimant: Morgan -v- Odhams Press Ltd; and
iii) indirect evidence - proof of facts from which a reliable inference can be drawn that the claimant had been identified as the subject of the libel: e.g. evidence that the claimant was the subject of ridicule at a public meeting following publication (Cook -v- Ward (1830) 6 Bing 409, 415) or that the claimant had been contacted by people who indicated (directly or indirectly) that they had identified him as the subject of the defamatory publication (Hayward -v- Thompson  QB 47; and Jozwiak -v- Sadek  1 WLR 275).
"Some suggest that there is subjective element, in the sense that a claimant has to prove that there were people who did in fact understand the words to refer to him. I do not believe this is the law: see Lachaux -v- Independent Print Ltd  QB 402  and Undre -v- Harrow LBC  EWHC 931 (QB) -, . In Baturina -v- Times Newspapers Ltd  1 WLR 1526 the majority expressed the view that such evidence was not even admissible: see  (Sedley LJ) and  (Hooper LJ). This was obiter, but consistent with the view I take as to the objective nature of the test…"
i) First, a claimant is not required to produce evidence that individual publishees did understand the words to refer to the claimant: Economou ; Lachaux (Warby J) [15(2)]
ii) Second, as it remains always an objective test, it is open to the tribunal of fact to hold that an individual publishee's identification of the claimant was, in the particular circumstances, unreasonable; s/he may be found to be 'avid for scandal' or simply to have jumped to an unreasonable conclusion (Morgan -v- Odhams Press Ltd p.1246B-D per Lord Reid):
"What has to be decided is whether it would have been unreasonable for a hypothetical sensible reader who knew the special facts proved to infer that this article referred to the [claimant]… This case could only be withdrawn from the jury if it was proper for the judge to say that all these six [identification] witnesses must be regarded as having acted unreasonably in reaching their conclusions…"
i) First, this is not an 'extrinsic facts' case. The photograph of Mr Monir was included in the 4 May Tweet; it is an intrinsic fact.
ii) Second, and in any event, Mr Monir has provided evidence that people identified him from his photograph in the 4 May Tweet (see - below). That evidential position has been clear at least since the exchange of witness statements. The pleading point raised by Mr Hirst has no merit. Mr Wood is fully aware of the claim that Mr Monir is advancing.
"If a reader recognised the claimant, he or she would simply conclude that there had been a mistake; that the obvious intention was to refer to Dodi Fayed and the inclusion of a photograph of the claimant was just a pure mistake, taking the matter nowhere. It is said that reference to Dr Dwek can only be achieved by innuendo, that is to say by relying by relying on additional special facts to the effect that identified individuals in fact recognised the photograph as being that of the claimant and did not appreciate that there was a mistake."
The evidence on publication and re-publication
i) A Tweet is unlikely to be read by all followers of the relevant Twitter account. If a Twitter user only follows one account then, barring sponsored Tweets, his/her timeline will consist solely of Tweets (or retweets) from the followed account. As the number of accounts followed increases, so too does the potential number of Tweets in the timeline. And the more active the Twitter accounts that are followed, the greater the number of Tweets that will appear in a user's timeline. A user who follows a large number of active accounts will receive a large number of Tweets. If s/he only looks at Twitter twice a day, s/he is likely to see only a fraction of the Tweets that would have been available in his/her timeline.
ii) In that respect, broadly Twitter is like a conveyor-belt of information. A Twitter user could choose to watch it continuously, in which case s/he will see all of the Tweets from accounts that s/he has followed, but more likely, s/he will dip in and out, in which case (unless the user chooses to scroll back) s/he will miss the Tweets that would have appeared in the timeline during the period that s/he was not viewing Tweets.
iii) Twitter has certain features that can cause some Tweets to appear out of their chronological sequence in an account. In addition, individual users can choose to search for specific material on Twitter which may or may not have appeared in his/her timeline at all.
i) On 14 February 2015, @andreassoridisn tweeted the photograph with the text:
Rotheram @SarahChampionMP with Pakistani bully [TG]
(I have replaced the name that appeared with initials).
ii) At 15.44 on 3 May 2015, @stardust193 tweeted the photograph with the text:
#Labour's Sarah Champion pictured with
two suspended #RotheramAbuse grooming
taxi driver. [TG] and [KG].
The account had 9,281 followers and the Tweet was retweeted 253 times.
iii) At 02.12 on 4 May 2015, @IpadProphet tweeted the photograph with the text:
#Labours Sarah Champion mp, with taxi drivers
suspended for #grooming
A vote for Labour will put your kids at risk.
The account had 123 followers and the Tweet was retweeted once.
iv) Three minutes later, at 02.15, @IpadProphet directly tweeted, to @TRobinsonNewEra (a Twitter account of Tommy Robinson), the photograph with the text:
Sarah Champion MP
#Rotherham with suspended #groomer taxi
v) At 02.25 on 4 May 2015, Tommy Robinson tweeted the photograph with the same text ("the Tommy Robinson Tweet"):
Sarah Champion MP #Rotherham with
suspended #groomer taxi drivers.
Mr Robinson's account had some 138,000 followers and the Tweet was retweeted 72 times.
vi) At 05.29 on 4 May 2015, @NF14Words (identified as "National Front 14w") tweeted the photograph with the text:
Sarah Champion, Rotherham Labour candidate
stood with two suspended Muslim grooming
taxi drivers. DON'T VOTE LABOUR!
The account had 1,012 followers. The Tweet was not retweeted.
vii) At 09.27 on 4 May 2015, a Facebook account under the name "Brian Martin" reposted @stardust193's Tweet (see [116(ii)] above) adding "#TeamNigel" (a hashtag linking to UKIP Leader, Nigel Farage).
viii) At 09.53 on 4 May 2015, @lucyk6992 tweeted the photograph with the text:
"@brassidio: SarahChampionMP with two
suspended #rotherham grooming taxi
drivers. [TG] and [KG]. #Labour
The account had 2,217 followers. The Tweet was not retweeted.
ix) At 20.42 on 4 May 2015, the 4 May Tweet was published on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account (see  above). The text of the Tweet was:
Sarah champion labour candidate for
Rotherham stood with 2 suspended child
grooming taxi drivers DO NOT VOTE
x) At 05.41 on 5 May 2015, @jamesoxby tweeted the photograph with the text:
@Bob_of_Hills Suspended taxi
driver "groomers" [TG] and [KG] with
Sarah Chamption, LabourMP for Rotherham
The account had 4,295 followers and the Tweet was retweeted once.
xi) At 07.41 on 5 May 2015, Eddie English posted the photograph on Facebook together with the text ("the Eddie English Facebook Post"):
Sarah champion labour candidate for Rotherham
stood with two suspended child grooming taxi
Drivers…………………………… DO NOT VOTE
The Facebook account had 1,683 "friends" and the post was liked 6 times and shared 384 times.
Marc David: isn't that thingy from youthy?
Marc David: Zahir
Jake Cresswell: It's him isn't it
Marc David: The dirty cunt!
Tyler Dyas: The dirty bastard needs his head caving in fucking horrible prick!!!
Tyler Dyas: His he still working at youthi?
Jake Cresswell: Not a clue not been in yonks
Tyler Dyas: Same here, needs his teeth taking out of his head
Jake Cresswell: Needs his chode chopping off!
Liam Terrence: He's not working with us no more
Tyler Dyas: Init pal
Tyler Dyas: Good the fucking nonce
i) Mr Monir's case is that the Bristol UKIP Twitter account had around 523 followers at the time of the Tweet. Mr Wood's case is that there were 551 followers in September 2016.
ii) Mr Wood's solicitor, Paul Wong, has carried out extensive analysis of these followers. Based on his evidence, Mr Hirst suggested that only 281 of these accounts were "active". Mr Wong had identified an account as "active" if the relevant user was posting Tweets him/herself. That conclusion does not follow. The fact that someone posts on Twitter may be a reliable indicator that that person is using the platform, but the converse does not follow. It is not necessary to be a contributor to Twitter to be a consumer of its output. There will be users of Twitter who post Tweets very infrequently (if at all), but who nevertheless regularly read the Tweets that appear in their timelines.
iii) The Tweet was directly re-tweeted 17 times and liked 8 times. Each time it was re-tweeted or liked, the Tweet would have appeared in the timelines of the respective Twitter user's followers.
iv) From investigations carried out by Mr Wong in September 2016, he identified 18 followers of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account who appeared to come from Yorkshire. That figure may not represent the total number of followers in Yorkshire. Any of those who did not identify their geographical location in their Twitter account, but who did live in Yorkshire, would not have been counted in the figure of 18.
i) Mr Monir received a telephone call from a friend, Shakoor Adalat, in the evening of 4 May 2015. Mr Adalat told Mr Monir that he had received "a disturbing picture of [him] being labelled a paedophile". Mr Adalat's evidence at trial was that he had received a copy of the 4 May Tweet via WhatsApp from his cousin. Mr Adalat said that he was in two minds whether to let Mr Monir know about the Tweet, but decided that he should. Mr Adalat forwarded the WhatsApp message to Mr Monir after being asked to do so.
ii) Mr Monir's sister, Shazana Monir, gave evidence that she had seen the 4 May Tweet on her Twitter newsfeed during the evening of 4 May 2015, and also told Mr Monir about it. When cross-examined, Ms Monir confirmed that the Tweet that she had seen that evening had come from the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. Mr Hirst asked Ms Monir when she thought she had seen the Tweet. She said that it was when she had gone around to her brother's house, and she estimated that this was "around 8.30, 9.00pm". The timing was important, because the 4 May Tweet was not posted until 8.42pm that evening.
iii) Adeal Ali, a friend of Mr Monir who lives in Rotherham, gave evidence that he had seen the 4 May Tweet on 4 May 2015. He did use Twitter but did not follow the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. He said that he had been carrying out a search for information about Sarah Champion MP on Google and Facebook when he found the 4 May Tweet on Google. He telephoned Mr Monir straightaway to tell him about it. When cross-examined, Mr Hirst asked Mr Ali whether he might have seen other Tweets, but Mr Ali was firm that the Tweet he had seen had said Bristol UKIP on the top corner. He did, however, say that he had seen the Tweet at between 5-7pm on 4 May 2015. If that timeframe is correct, it would mean that he could not have seen the 4 May Tweet.
iv) Shabir Daad lives in Bristol. His evidence was agreed by Mr Wood and Mr Daad was not required to attend for cross-examination. In the run up to the 2015 general election Mr Daad was working with George Galloway, campaigning for him and the Respect Party in Bradford. In that role, he also worked with Mohammed Hussein. Although he did not follow Bristol UKIP on Twitter, Mr Daad saw the 4 May Tweet on 5 May 2015. He believed it to be true due to the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham. He thought that Mr Hussein would be interested in the 4 May Tweet because he was from Rotherham and so he forwarded a copy of it to him via WhatsApp. Mr Daad did not know Mr Monir.
v) Mohammed Hussein provided a witness statement for Mr Monir and was called to be cross-examined. He confirmed that he was campaigning for the Respect Party in Bradford when he received a copy of the 4 May Tweet from Mr Daad. Mr Hussein said that, although he did not know him personally, he had recognised Mr Monir because he was well-known in the Rotherham community. He too thought that the allegation was true. He said that, at some time later, he sent a screenshot of the Tweet to approximately 1,000 people, mostly based in Rotherham, using some 30 WhatsApp groups to which he belonged ("the WhatsApp Republication"). Despite Mr Wood's acceptance of Mr Daad's evidence, Mr Hussein was cross-examined as to whether he was sure that what he had been sent by Mr Daad was the 4 May Tweet. He affirmed his evidence that it was.
vi) Shamraz Monir, Mr Monir's brother, gave evidence that he saw the 4 May Tweet on 8 May 2015 at 12.12pm and telephoned his brother to tell him about it. He stated that friends of his in Rotherham and other local people who knew him had asked him about the 4 May Tweet. Some of them, he said, had seen it on Twitter and some had it passed to them on WhatsApp. He estimated that about 20 people had asked him about the 4 May Tweet, but he agreed in cross-examination that he told these people that the allegation was not true. Shamraz's evidence on this point was not challenged in cross-examination and he maintained that it was the 4 May Tweet that people were asking him about.
i) In his witness statement, Mr Monir said that he had kept a tally of the number of people who either mentioned the 4 May Tweet or asked if he was a taxi driver. Mr Monir is not a taxi driver – he does not even have a driving licence – so he inferred that if he was asked this it was as a result of the relevant person having seen the 4 May Tweet. By September 2016, he had logged 115 people raising either of these things with him.
ii) He says that he has experienced people calling him "you Paki groomer", others have made threatening remarks and he says that he has even experienced people driving past him and shouting abuse.
iii) Mr Monir gives evidence that of other parents at the school to which his son attends – and of which he had previously been a governor – no longer speaking to him when he collects his son from school. He attributes this shunning of him to the 4 May Tweet and he has in consequence avoided doing the school run. He refers to a particular incident in June 2017 when he was dropping off his son at school. Another parent had said "Let Jimmy Saville go [first]", in the context of Mr Monir walking in front of the other parent.
iv) In early 2015, Mr Monir applied to the Labour Party to be on its panel of candidates for council elections in 2016. On 14 December 2015, Mr Monir had an interview with a selection committee of the party. As part of the interview, he was asked whether there was anything about him that could potentially embarrass the Labour Party. Mr Monir explained about the 4 May Tweet and he felt that, by their body language, the reaction of the panel was negative. Following the interview, Mr Monir was told that he had not been selected. He asked for feedback, and on 16 December 2015 he received an email from the party which included concern about "disclosure of potentially embarrassing issues which you alluded to", which Mr Monir believes could only have been a reference to the 4 May Tweet.
Conclusions as to publication and republication of the 4 May Tweet
i) Beyond noting that the 4 May Tweet is likely to have been seen by a proportion of the followers of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account, I cannot make any finding about the number of publishees or how many of them may have been based in Yorkshire. Any attempt to do so would simply be guesswork. This is not a mass publication case where the Court is able to draw a sure inference as to publication. Mr Monir must demonstrate his case on publication by evidence.
ii) The 4 May Tweet was read by (and published to) (1) Shakoor Adalat; (2) Shazana Monir; (3) Shabhir Daad; (4) Mohammed Hussein; and (5) Shamraz Monir.
iii) I find that Adeal Ali must have been mistaken about seeing the 4 May Tweet. I think it likely that he saw one of the other publications that included the photograph of Mr Monir (see  above).
iv) Some 20 people asked Mr Shamraz Monir about the 4 May Tweet.
v) Mr Hussein sent a screenshot of the 4 May Tweet that he had received from Mr Daad to approximately 1,000 people, mostly based in Rotherham, via WhatsApp groups of which he was a member.
vi) The Eddie English Facebook Post was a republication of the 4 May Tweet.
a) I am satisfied, from the analysis in  above, that Eddie English was regularly reading the Bristol UKIP Twitter account.
b) The language and contents of the Eddie English Facebook post are almost identical to the 4 May Tweet. Of particular importance are: the grammatical misuse of "stood"; the error in capitalisation of Sarah Champion's surname and "Labour"; and the block capitalisation of the exhortation not to vote Labour. The differences – spelling out the word "two" rather than use of the number and the addition of multiple full stops - are minor in comparison.
c) I reject Mr Hirst's alternative hypothesis that the Eddie English Facebook Post was caused by the Tommy Robinson Tweet. The dissimilarities mean that the it is much more likely that the post was based on the 4 May Tweet.
vii) The Eddie English Facebook Post was published to, at least, the 384 people who shared the post and could potentially have been published to all 1,683 "friends" of Eddie English's Facebook account, although it is not possible to determine how many.
viii) Two particular people who saw the Eddie English Facebook Post were Marc David and Jake Cresswell. Mr David shared the Eddie English Facebook Post with his Facebook "friends" (the number of whom is uncertain on the evidence). The discussion about the post ( above) also demonstrates that the post was read by Tyler Dyas and Liam Terrence.
ix) Barry Horner also saw the Eddie English Facebook Post and shared it with his Facebook "friends" (the number of whom is uncertain on the evidence, but one was Mr Monir's neighbour, Sue Horner).
x) Mr Monir has failed to satisfy me that the negative reactions he experienced ( above) were caused by publication of the 4 May Tweet. The reactions relied upon could have been caused by any of the publications identified in  above.
Conclusions as to reference
ISSUE 3: RESPONSIBILITY FOR PUBLICATION
i) direct participation in (or authorisation of) the publication of the Tweet;
iii) vicarious liability; and
iv) subsequent ratification of the publication under the principle in Byrne -v- Deane  1 KB 818.
I shall deal with each of these in turn.
(i) Direct participation/authorisation
i) The general rule can be stated as follows: under the general law of tort, everyone who knowingly takes part in the publication of a libel, or authorises or ratifies it, are jointly and severally liable (§8.10 Duncan & Neill on Defamation (4th edition, 2015);
ii) However, for a person to be held liable as a primary publisher, s/he must be shown to have knowing involvement in the publication of the particular words. It is insufficient that a person merely plays a passive role in the process: Bunt -v- Tilley  1 WLR 1243 -;
Preliminary pleading point
i) When the point was first raised, I considered what was originally pleaded in the Particulars of Claim. Paragraph 6 set out Mr Monir's case on Mr Wood's responsibility for publication:
6.1 The @BristolUkip Twitter account is the official Twitter account for the Bristol Branch of UKIP. At the relevant time, the Defendant was the Chairman of the Bristol Branch of UKIP and the UKIP candidate for the Bristol South constituency in the General Election held on 7 May 2015.
6.2 The Defendant featured heavily in the @BristolUkip account's tweets and feed. By way of example, he was mentioned in six separate tweets published by the @BristolUkip account on 6 May 2015.
6.3 The Twitter account was created and used by John Langley (then the Vice-Chairman of the UKIP Bristol Branch) under the instruction and on behalf of the UKIP Bristol Branch Committee (of which the Defendant was the Chairman). The Committee, including the Defendant, would regularly email Mr Langley with subjects about which they wanted him to tweet. In the circumstances, Mr Langley published the Tweet on behalf of and with the encouragement of the UKIP Bristol Branch and, in particular, the Defendant. The Defendant participated in the publication of the Tweet.
ii) That was Mr Monir's case, pleaded without the benefit of any disclosure.
iii) In the Defence, Mr Wood's response to this case was:
a) Paragraph 6.1 was admitted.
b) As to Paragraph 6.2, contended that the fact that the Defendant was referred to in a number of Tweets did not mean that he was responsible for their publication.
c) His response to Paragraph 6.3 was:
"… it is admitted that the @BristolUKIP Account was set up, managed, edited and used exclusively by John Langley who was then a volunteer member of Bristol UKIP. Mr Langley was authorised by the Branch Committee, which included the Defendant, to take responsibility for all social media output for Bristol UKIP. It is denied that Mr Langley received detailed or day-to-day instruction or guidance on how to use the @BristolUKIP Account and opther social media accounts, or that any other Bristol UKIP member had prior input or copy approval of any social media output. Rather Mr Langley, was encouraged by the Committee, in general terms, to post content which would advance UKIP's interest in the General Election on the one hand, but which would not be harmful to UKIP's interests on the other. In particular the Defendant issued his own personal warning to Mr Langley that content which was xenophobic or racist, or descended into highly personal attacks, was not tolerated by the Claimant under any circumstances."
iv) The original factual averments in the parties' pleadings have rather been overtaken by developments in the case. For example, it has been clear, ever since there was disclosure as to the creation of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account, that the account was actually set up by Mr Wood not Mr Langley. In a perfect world, parties would keep their statements of case under review at stages through the litigation and make necessary amendments to the factual case advanced in their statements of case in light of, for example, disclosure. In the real world, this is rarely done. No doubt, this is born of pragmatism and a desire to avoid unnecessary expenditure of costs. In most cases, each party's case on the facts becomes clearer as the litigation moves through the phases of disclosure and witness statements. If the factual case (at least) of each party, and the dispute between them, is perfectly clear neither party is prejudiced if the pleadings are not updated. In many trials, the pleadings are not referred to at all, having by that stage served their purpose.
v) Occasionally, as here, a party raises a complaint that part of the case advanced by his opponent has not been raised adequately or at all in the other party's statement of case. Mr Hirst, relying upon paragraph 26.9 of Gatley (12th edition, 2013) contends that Mr Monir's Particulars of Claim fails to plead "the necessary factual averments, namely that the agent or employee was acting on behalf of the defendant within the scope of his authority and set out any additional facts and matters on which he relies in support of such averments". Mr Santos contends that CPR 16(4)(1)(a) requires pleading of the facts upon which the party relies. He relies upon the case that is quoted in the footnote to the passage relied upon by Mr Hirst from Gatley: Burch -v- Parkinson  TASSC 42. That case, from the Supreme Court of Tasmania, was concerned with a defamation claim in which an issue arose as to the sufficiency of the pleading of the claim for vicarious liability. The Tasmanian procedural rules (r227(1)(b)) contained a provision in almost identical terms to CPR 16.4(1)(a). Relying upon an English authority, Holt AsJ held that the claimant had sufficiently pleaded the material facts in support of his contentions as to vicarious liability:
 … The rule in this jurisdiction is that the pleading is to contain only the material facts. The legal consequences which will follow, if pleaded facts are proven at trial, is not a matter for necessary incorporation in the pleadings: In Konskier -v- B Goodman Ltd  1 KB 421 Scrutton LJ said in relation to pleaded facts at 427: "But a plaintiff is not now bound to state the legal effect of the facts on which he relies; he is only bound to state the facts themselves ...". In respect of a rule equivalent to r227(1)(b) Martin J in Creedon -v- Measey Investments (1988) 91 FLR 318 at 320 adopted the statement by Williams in Civil Procedure in Victoria, obviously taken from Konskier, that: "The pleader is not bound to state the legal effect of the facts upon which he relies; he is only bound to state the facts themselves." It follows that the fact, if it be the fact, that the plea does not, by its terms, clearly show whether the liability alleged is vicarious or direct or both does not amount to a breach of the rules of pleading.
vi) That statement of the rule certainly accords with my understanding of the historical requirements for a statement of case in this jurisdiction. Whatever the strict rule, however, the cardinal principle is one of fairness. A party is entitled to know the case that he has to meet. If he is ambushed at trial, that is not fair. Statements of Case are one of the ways that parties know the case against them.
vii) When the point was raised by Mr Hirst at the beginning of the trial it seemed to me that Mr Wood did know the factual case he had to meet. Mr Monir was contending that, by his actions in putting Mr Langley in charge of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account, he was liable for the publication of the 4 May Tweet. I therefore asked Mr Hirst what further evidence or disclosure he contended would have been before the Court had the case on agency/vicarious liability been made expressly clear in the Particulars of Claim. He gave general answers about wishing to investigate "the wider enterprise of UKIP Bristol branch" and submitted that, on the issue of vicarious liability, I needed to probe more deeply into the operations of the branch. I was sceptical that, given the issues on the existing statements of case and the evidence already before the court, there was likely to be any further documents or evidence that would bear on the issue. I did not consider that there was any real prejudice to Mr Wood in his dealing with the legal consequences of the factual position. Nevertheless, I gave Mr Hirst the option to come back at any time during the trial if he were able to identify any factual material that Mr Wood was unable to rely upon because of the alleged failure to flag up the issue of agency/vicarious liability. He did not take up the offer.
viii) Having completed the trial, I am very clear in my conclusion that there has been no prejudice to Mr Wood:
a) Although the Particulars of Claim could have been clearer, the essential basis on which it was alleged that Mr Wood was liable for publication was sufficiently identified. The issue of agency/vicarious liability was raised expressly in Mr Monir's skeleton for the pre-trial review. There has been no ambush at trial. Indeed, Mr Wood's skeleton for the trial dealt with the issue of agency/vicarious liability, albeit prefaced with a contention that Mr Monir would need permission to amend to advance the argument. Critically, however, it was not suggested that an application to amend would be resisted or that it should be refused because of any identified prejudice.
b) These are essentially legal arguments advanced on the same facts that were in issue – and were always going to be in issue – in the trial. The reality is that this is a paradigm example of a case where the argument is one as to the legal consequences that follow from certain factual findings. As I have identified, there are four bases on which Mr Monir contends that, on the facts, Mr Wood is legally responsible for the 4 May Tweet. Three of them are based on the same facts, very few of which are disputed. Only the Byrne -v- Dean argument is based on different facts. I am quite satisfied that Mr Hirst on behalf of Mr Wood has had ample time to make submissions on the issues of law in relation to agency/vicarious liability, not least because the trial was adjourned between the end of April until the beginning of July.
"A principal is liable in tort for loss or injury caused by his agent, whether or not his servant, and if not his servant, whether or not he can be called an independent contractor, in the following cases:
(a) if the wrongful act was specifically instigated, authorised or ratified by the principal.
(b) (semble) in the case of a statement made in the course of representing the principal within the actual or apparent authority of the agent: and for such a statement the principal may be liable notwithstanding that it was made for the benefit of the agent alone and not for that of the principal.
(c) where the principal can be taken to have assumed a responsibility for the actions of the agent."
"It was said that the defendant reserved to itself no power of controlling or directing Ridley in the execution of the work he was employed to do or of dismissing him for disobedience of orders: in short, that Ridley was an agent of the defendant in the nature of an independent contractor, and not servant of the defendant for whose tort in the course of his employment the defendant would be responsible. The nature of Ridley's employment, however, gave the defendant a good deal more power of controlling and directing his action than was conceded by the argument addressed to us. Nothing in the agreement or the position of the parties denied the right of the [defendant] to control and direct Ridley, when, where and whom he should canvass. In our opinion the judgment of the Judicial Committee in Citizens' Life Assurance -v- Brown  AC 423 really concludes the present case. But if it does not, still we apprehend that one is liable for another's tortious act 'if he expressly directs him to do it or if he employs that other person as his agent and the act complained of is within the scope of the agent's authority". It is not necessary that the particular act should have been authorised: it is enough that the agent should have been put in a position to do the class of acts complained of… And if an unlawful act done by an agent be within the scope of his authority, it is immaterial that the principal directed the agent not to do it. The class of acts which Ridley was employed to do necessarily involved the use of arguments and statements for the purpose of persuading the public to effect policies of insurance with the defendant, and in pursuing that purpose he was authorised to speak, and in fact spoke, with the voice of the defendant. Consequently the defendant is liable for defamatory statements made by Ridley in the course of his canvass, though contrary to its direction."
"… In my opinion, the liability of a master for the torts committed by his servant in the course of his employment is not imposed upon the appellant by the agency agreement, but I do not think that it follows that the appellant incurs no responsibility for the defamation published by the 'agent' in the course of his attempts to obtain proposals.
In most cases in which a tort is committed in the course of the performance of work for the benefit of another person, he cannot be vicariously responsible if the actual tortfeasor is not his servant and he has not directly authorised the doing of the act which amounts to a tort. The work, although done at his request and for his benefit, is considered as the independent function of the person who undertakes it, and not as something which the person obtaining the benefit does by his representative standing in his place and, therefore, identified with him for the purpose of liability arising in the course of its performance. The independent contractor carries out his work, not as a representative but as a principal.
But a difficulty arises when the function entrusted is that of representing the person who requests its performance in a transaction with others, so that the very service to be performed consists in standing in his place and assuming to act in his right and not in an independent capacity. In this very case the 'agent' has authority to obtain proposals for and on behalf of the appellant; and he has, I have no doubt, authority to accept premiums. When a proposal is made and a premium paid to him, the Company then and there receives them, because it has put him in its place for the purpose. This does not mean that he may conclude a contract of insurance which binds the Company. It may be, and probably is, outside his province to go beyond soliciting and obtaining proposals and receiving premiums; but I think that in performing these services for the Company, he does not act independently, but as a representative of the Company, which accordingly must be considered as itself conducting the negotiation in his person… [the Judge then referred to some academic commentary]
Some of the difficulties of the subject arise from the many senses in which the word 'agent' is employed. 'No word is more commonly and constantly abused than the word agent. A person may be spoken of as an agent and no doubt in the popular sense of the word may properly be said to be an agent, although when it is attempted to suggest that he is an agent under such circumstances as create the legal obligations attaching to agency that use of the word is only misleading' (per Lord Herschell in Kennedy -v- De Trafford (1897) AC 180, 188). Unfortunately, too, the expressions 'for,' 'on behalf of,' 'for the benefit of' and even 'authorise' are often used in relation to services which, although done for the advantage of a person who requests them, involve no representation.
If the view be right which I have already expressed, that the 'agent' represented the Company in soliciting proposals so that he was acting in right of the Company with its authority, it follows that the Company in confiding to his judgment, within the limits of relevance and of reasonableness, the choice of inducements and arguments, authorised him on its behalf to address to prospective proponents such observations as appeared to him appropriate. The undertaking contained in his contract not to disparage other institutions is not a limitation of his authority but a promise as to the manner of its exercise. In these circumstances, I do not think it is any extension of principle to hold the Company liable for the slanders which he thought proper to include in his apparatus of persuasion.
The wrong committed arose from the mistaken or erroneous manner in which the actual authority committed to him was exercised when acting as a true agent representing his principal in dealing with third persons.
I do not think a distinction can be maintained between breaches of duty towards third persons with whom the agent is authorised to deal and breaches of duty towards strangers, committed in exercising that authority. If what he does is done as the representative of his principal, it cannot matter, apart from questions of estoppel and of apparent as opposed to real authority, whether the injury which it inflicts is a wrong to one rather than another person."
i) Regan is a case about whether an authorised publication of a defamatory statement by an agent attracted the same qualified privilege as would have applied had the principal published the same statement himself. The issue was not whether the client, as principal, was liable for what his solicitor published on his behalf (although Chadwick LJ clearly thought he would have been – see 569). Mr Taylor, the solicitor, was being sued personally for what he had published on behalf of the client. Although Chadwick LJ dissented in the result, all three Judges found that the scope of a solicitor's authority to publish statements on behalf of his client was a matter of fact to be determined in each case (at 564, per May LJ, 569, per Chadwick LJ and 573 per Henry LJ).
ii) Bezant was a summary judgment application in which Gray J held that the claimant had failed to provide any evidence that the defendant "caused or authorised or even knew in advance of the allegedly defamatory words published by [his solicitor]" . There was no consideration of the issue of agency.
"[The employee] had no actual authority, express or implied, to write libels nor to do anything legally wrong; but it is not necessary that he should have had any such authority in order to render the company liable for his acts. The law upon this subject cannot be better expressed than it was by the Acting Chief Justice in this case. He said: "although the particular act which gives the cause of action may not be authorized, still if the act is done in the course of employment which is authorized, then the master is liable for the act of his servant." This doctrine has been approved and acted upon by this Board (in Mackay -v- Commercial Bank of New Brunswick (1874) L. R. 5 P. C. 394; Swire -v- Francis (1877) 3 App. Cas. 106), and the doctrine is as applicable to incorporated companies as to individuals."
 Colonial Mutual Life establishes that if an independent contractor is engaged to solicit the bringing about of legal relations between the principal who engages the contractor and third parties, the principal will be held liable for slanders uttered to persuade the third party to make an agreement with the principal. It is a conclusion that depends directly upon the identification of the independent contractor as the principal's agent (properly so called) and the recognition that the conduct of which complaint is made was conduct undertaken in the course of, and for the purpose of, executing that agency…
 The conclusion reached in Colonial Mutual Life, that the party engaging an agent (albeit as an independent contractor) to solicit for the creation of legal relationships between that party and others is liable for the slanders uttered in the course of soliciting proposals, stands wholly within the bounds of the explanations proffered by Pollock [Essays in Jurisprudence and Ethics, 1882, at 122] for the liability of a master for the tortious acts of a servant. It stands within those bounds because of the closeness of the connection between the principal's business and the conduct of the independent contractor for which it is sought to make the principal liable. The relevant connection is established by the combination of the engagement of the contractor as the agent of the principal to bring about legal relations between the principal and third parties, and the slander being uttered in the course of attempting to induce a third party to enter legal relations with the principal.
 Plainly, if a defendant knew the content of a defamatory article and authorised or participated in its publication, that defendant would be liable as a main publisher. As Eady J. pointed out in Bunt -v- Tilley, "It is clear that the state of a defendant's knowledge can be an important factor" ... But in the present case, it is not in dispute that the respondents were unaware of the offending words until some time after they had been published on the forum. This is not a case where liability as publisher can be founded upon vicarious liability for the publishing acts of employees or upon rules for attributing liability to a corporation for the acts of its organs or agents. How then could it be said that the respondents "authorised" their publication? Mr Thomas's answer is that since, for their own commercial purposes, every posting on the forum was made with the respondents' encouragement, they must be taken to have authorised each such posting, whatever its content.
 It is of course possible in law that a principal might attract liability where he authorises his agent to publish whatever statement the latter may choose to publish, including a defamatory statement. However, that would have to be established as a matter of fact with evidence of some pre-existing arrangement between principal and agent or later ratification…"
i) Mr Wood set up the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. The account was registered to Mr Wood's email address. He retained effective control over that account both practically (because he could change the password at any time) and by dint of his authority as Chairman of the Bristol branch.
ii) From May 2014, Mr Wood delegated control and operation of the Bristol UKIP Twitter account to Mr Langley. As Campaign Manager for the branch, Mr Langley was given the task of posting material on behalf of Bristol UKIP generally, and, as a candidate standing for election in 2015, Mr Wood specifically. The campaigning function had been entrusted to Mr Langley. It was readily understood and accepted by the Bristol branch generally, and Mr Wood specifically, that Mr Langley would be using his own judgment as to what to Tweet or publish via Bristol UKIP's social media channels. Mr Langley was, as he said in evidence, "left to his own devices".
iii) One of the campaigning platforms was to seek to highlight that the Labour Party controlled Rotherham Council when the child sexual exploitation scandal had taken place ("the Rotherham Message").
iv) There were no written guidelines as to what should be posted by Mr Langley, but he understood that he had to exercise care as to what he published in Facebook and Twitter. Mr Wood had given Mr Langley (and the other members of the Bristol branch) a standing instruction that no-one was to make racist or xenophobic attacks.
v) Notwithstanding that instruction, at least in February and March 2015, Mr Langley had posted racist material on behalf of Bristol UKIP. Mr Wood was not aware of this because he had not enforced the Prior Approval Instruction and he did not monitor Mr Langley's social media output. That was so even after Mr Wood became aware that Mr Langley had posted material on the Frost Report that Mr Wood regarded as racist.
vi) The decision not to remove Mr Langley – or even at that late stage to enforce the Prior Approval Instruction – was taken because it was politically expedient. Mr Wood was prepared to tolerate whatever risk Mr Langley presented because he did not want to lose his campaigning services at a critical stage prior to the election.
vii) Mr Wood could have chosen to retain (or at any stage, regain) personal control over the posting material on Bristol UKIP's social media channels in support of his candidacy in the election, but instead he was content to delegate the task entirely to Mr Langley.
viii) The 4 May Tweet was published by Mr Langley, not on his own account, but in discharge of his role as Campaign Manager. It was posted by him in the course of, and for the purpose of, executing the task that had been delegated to him by Mr Wood: viz. campaigning for Mr Wood and Bristol UKIP. It was promoting the Rotherham Message.
ix) Mr Wood cannot escape liability because Mr Langley acted against the general prohibition on publication of material that was an attack on others. He was acting within the scope of the job that had been delegated to him by Mr Wood: cf. Colonial Mutual Life.
 Electoral law has always drawn the concept of agency very widely. In the days when those standing for election (particularly to Parliament) would be members of the upper classes, it was not supposed that they would do their own electioneering. It was taken for granted that others would carry out the hard work of persuading voters. In an era before political parties were professionally organised, the candidate would collect a body of dedicated supporters who would campaign on his behalf. Electoral law took the position that those who participated in the candidate's campaign would be treated as agents for the candidate. By contrast, members of the wider public who merely manifested support for the candidate would not be 'agents' for electoral purposes.
 The increasingly professional organisation of political parties crystallised the distinction between agents and public. Where a political party set up a campaign team, the members of that team would prima facie be treated as the candidate's agents. The candidate might not know all the individual members of the team and might not have any idea of what they were getting up to: none the less, the members of the 'team' would be his agents.
 The locus classicus of the definition is a case arising out of the General Election of 1874 the Wakefield Case XVII (1874) 2 O'M&H 100:
By election law the doctrine of agency is carried further than in other cases. By the ordinary law of agency a person is not responsible for the acts of those whom he has not authorised, or even for acts done beyond the scope of the agent's authority … but he is not responsible for the acts which his alleged agents choose to do on their own behalf. But if that construction of agency were put upon acts done at an election, it would be almost impossible to prevent corruption. Accordingly, a wider scope has been given to the term 'agency' in election matters, and a candidate is responsible generally, you may say, for the deeds of those who to his knowledge for the purpose of promoting his election canvass and do such other acts as may tend to promote his election, provided the candidate or his authorised agents have reasonable knowledge that those persons are so acting with that object.
 'Agent' is thus not by any means restricted to the candidate's official election agent but covers a wide range of canvassers (see for example Westbury Case (1869) 20 LT 16 and Tewkesbury Case, Collings -v- Price (1880) 44 LT 192), committees (see for example Stalybridge Case, Ogden Woolley and Buckley -v- Sidebottom (1869) 20 LT 75) and supporters (see for example Great Yarmouth Borough Case, White -v- Fell (1906) 5 O'M&H 176). The candidate is taken to be responsible for their actions even though he may not have appointed them as agents. Knowledge of what they are doing does not need to be proved against a candidate for him to be fixed with their actions.
 The Great Yarmouth case cited above sets out the principles very clearly:
There are principles, and the substance of the principle of agency is that if a man is employed at an election to get you votes, or, if, without being employed, he is authorised to get you votes, or, if, although neither employed nor authorised, he does to your knowledge get you votes, and you accept what he has done and adopt it, then he becomes a person for whose acts you are responsible in the sense that, if his acts have been of an illegal character, you cannot retain the benefit which those illegal acts have helped to procure for you … Now that is, as I apprehend, clearly established law. It is hard upon candidates in one sense, because it makes them responsible for acts which are not only not in accordance with their wish, but which are directly contrary to it.
 Clearly agency connotes some connection between the agent and the candidate. If, unknown to the candidate and without his consent, members of the public who support his candidature (or his party) engage in corrupt or illegal practices to ensure his election, those unofficial 'supporters' may well not, in law, be deemed to be his agents, although this might set up a situation of general corruption under s.164 [Representation of the People Act 1983]. What the law is designed to achieve is to make a distinction between the candidate's 'team' of supporters and canvassers and wholly unconnected members of the public who may support the candidate and engage in unsolicited acts of a corrupt or illegal nature on his behalf.
(iii) Vicarious Liability
i) Several policy reasons were historically regarded as making it fair, just and reasonable to impose vicarious liability on a defendant where, although the defendant and the tortfeasor were not bound by a contract of employment, their relationship was 'akin to that between an employer and an employee'. The principal factors were:
a) the defendant is more likely to have the means to compensate the victim than the tortfeasor and can be expected to have insured against that liability;
b) the tort has been committed as a result of activity being taken by the tortfeasor on behalf of the defendant;
c) the tortfeasor's activity is likely to be part of the business activity of the defendant;
d) the defendant, by employing the tortfeasor to carry on the activity will have created the risk of the tort committed by the tortfeasor; and
e) the tortfeasor will, to a greater or lesser degree, have been under the control of the defendant.
In Cox, of these five factors, (b), (c) and (d) were held to have particular continuing importance (-).
ii) A relationship other than one of employment is, in principle, capable of giving rise to vicarious liability where harm is wrongfully done by an individual who carries on activities as an integral part of the business activities carried on by a defendant and for its benefit (rather than his activities being entirely attributable to the conduct of a recognisably independent business of his own or of a third party), and where the commission of the wrongful act is a risk created by the defendant by assigning those activities to the individual in question: Cox .
iii) The concept of control is interpreted liberally: Christian Brothers .
iv) The defendant need not be carrying on activities of a commercial nature: Cox .
v) Nor need the benefit which it derives from the tortfeasor's activities take the form of a profit. It is sufficient that the defendant is carrying on activities in the furtherance of its own interests, and the tortfeasor must carry on activities assigned to him by the defendant as an integral part of its operation and for its benefit. The defendant must, by assigning those activities to him, have "created a risk of his committing the tort": Cox -.
vi) In E -v- English Province of Our Lady of Charity  QB 722, Ward LJ treated the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church as a business carried on by the bishop, and found that the priest carried on that business under a degree of control by the bishop and was part and parcel of the organisation of the business and integrated into it.
vii) In the Christian Brothers case, the relationship between the institute (an unincorporated association) and the brothers was found to have all the essential elements of the relationship between an employer and employees, even though the brothers were not paid and were simply bound to the institute by their vows (Cox ). The general approach adopted was not confined to some special category of cases, such as the sexual abuse of children (Cox ).
viii) The approach to vicarious liability adopted in Cox was mirrored by the Supreme Court's decision at the same time in Mohamud, in which a customer of the defendant chain of supermarkets was the subject of a serious physical attack by an employee of the defendant in one of the defendant's petrol stations. In carrying out the attack the defendant's employee ignored instructions from his supervisor. The Supreme Court gave the following guidance as to the circumstances in which an employer should be held vicariously liable for the actions of an employee (although this extends to similar relationships, as emphasised in Cox)
a) The Court has to consider (i) what functions or "field of activities" have been entrusted by the employer to the employee, or, in everyday language, what was the nature of his job; and (ii) whether there was "sufficient connection" between the position in which he was employed and his wrongful conduct to make it right for the employer to be held liable under the principle of social justice: Mohamud -.
b) In relation to (i), even where the employer has expressly forbidden the act in itself, an employer has to shoulder responsibility on a wider basis, and becomes responsible to third parties for acts within the field of activities assigned to the employee, even if not in furtherance of the employee's employment: Mohamud -.
c) In relation to (ii), in cases where the employee uses or misuses the position entrusted to him in a way which injures a third party the necessary connection has been found for the principle to be applied: Mohamud .
ix) It is possible for an unincorporated association to be vicariously liable for the tortious acts of one or more of its members. The Court adopts a flexible approach as to who is the proper defendant: Christian Brothers at , -; E -v- English Province .
x) The Supreme Court specifically recognised that vicarious liability can exist both (a) between an unincorporated association and one or more of its members (), and (b) between one member of an unincorporated association and another, at least where the former acts on behalf of the other ().
i) A defendant is not to be held vicariously liable for the tortious acts of independent actors who do not stand in a relationship sufficiently analogous to employment: Woodland -v- Swimming Teachers Association  AC 537 
ii) For example, an employer is not liable for an employee who takes advantage of a company email system to vent personal views unconnected with his work: Pena -v- Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 3027 (QB).
iii) The relationship between Mr Wood and Mr Langley was not analogous to employment. Both were volunteers, the chair and vice-chair respectively, as were all other members of the branch. Mr Langley was not obliged to do anything for the branch. On occasions he neglected to perform administrative tasks and refused to do as he was directed. The position of Mr Langley fails all legal tests that might apply to employment.
(iv) Byrne -v- Dean ratification
 As the authorities on the innocent dissemination defence show, in a newspaper setting, the journalist, editor, printers (although they may nowadays better be viewed as subordinate publishers) and (vicariously) the newspaper proprietor are all treated as first or main publishers. In my view, this is because they are persons whose role in the publication process is such that they know or can be expected easily to find out the content of the articles being published and who are able to control that content, if necessary preventing the article's publication. It is because they occupy such a position that the law has held them strictly liable for any defamatory statements published.
 In my view, the abovementioned characteristics supply the criteria for identifying a person as a first or main publisher. They are (i) that he knows or can easily acquire knowledge of the content of the article being published (although not necessarily of its defamatory nature as a matter of law); and (ii) that he has a realistic ability to control publication of such content, in other words, editorial control involving the ability and opportunity to prevent publication of such content. I shall, for brevity refer to them as "the knowledge criterion" and "the control criterion" respectively.
The knowledge criterion
 That the knowledge criterion identifies a distinguishing characteristic of a first or main publisher is clear from the doctrine of innocent dissemination itself: the absence of knowledge is the first requirement of that defence, being a defence only open to subordinate publishers. Thus, in Emmens -v- Pottle (1886) 16 QBD 354 at 357. Lord Esher MR stated:
"The question is whether, as such disseminators, they published the libel? If they had known what was in the paper, whether they were paid for circulating it or not, they would have published the libel, and would have been liable for so doing. That, I think, cannot be doubted."
 And as laid down by Romer LJ in Vizetelly -v- Mudie's Select Library  2 QB 170 at 180, to avail himself of the defence, the defendant must establish "… that he was innocent of any knowledge of the libel contained in the work disseminated by him".
 The knowledge criterion is also reflected in the traditional inclusion of printers as within the class of first or main publishers—and in the more recent tendency to question whether such treatment of printers ought to be maintained.
 Thus, in Thompson -v- Australian Capital TV Ltd (1996) 186 CLR 574, the Australian High Court expressed itself in favour extending the innocent dissemination defence to printers on the basis that their knowledge of content can no longer be assumed or expected. In their joint judgment, Brennan CJ, Dawson and Toohey JJ. Stated (at 586–587):
"… in both Emmens -v- Pottle and Vizetelly printers were regarded as outside the ambit of the defence of innocent dissemination. The printing technology of the time made it inevitable that the printer would know the contents of what was being printed. With changes in technology, the logic of treating printers in the same way as distributors was accepted by the Faulks Committee in the United Kingdom and by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The logic is irresistible so long as the printer qualifies as a subordinate publisher..."
Knowledge of what?
 What must the publisher be shown to have known or to be expected to have known in order to be treated as a first or main publisher and so deprived of the defence? [The claimant] submitted that it was sufficient that these respondents knew that they were hosting and making accessible a multitude of postings on the forum. They must therefore, he argued, be taken to know the content of the postings or discussion threads complained of since they formed part of that multitudinous body of material. I cannot accept such a broad and indiscriminate basis for deeming an internet intermediary strictly liable as a first or main publisher. It should be stressed that adopting a more focussed requirement as to knowledge does not mean absolving a platform provider from liability. It means treating it as a subordinate publisher and throwing on it the burden of bringing itself within the innocent dissemination defence.
 Eady J, in Bunt -v- Tilley -, helpfully explains the nature of the knowledge requirement in the following terms:
"I have little doubt … that to impose legal responsibility upon anyone under the common law for the publication of words it is essential to demonstrate a degree of awareness or at least an assumption of general responsibility, such as has long been recognised in the context of editorial responsibility. As Lord Morris commented in McLeod -v- St Aubyn  AC 549, 562: 'A printer and publisher intends to publish, and so intending cannot plead as a justification that he did not know the contents. The appellant in this case never intended to publish.' In that case the relevant publication consisted in handing over an unread copy of a newspaper for return the following day. It was held that there was no sufficient degree of awareness or intention to impose legal responsibility for that 'publication'. … for a person to be held responsible there must be knowing involvement in the process of publication of the relevant words." (Italics in the original.)
 In Emmens -v- Pottle, in summarising the situation which gave rise to the innocent dissemination defence, Lord Esher MR stated: "… the defendants were innocent disseminators of a thing which they were not bound to know was likely to contain a libel" (at 357, italics supplied). And in Vizetelly, Romer LJ spoke of the defendant being "innocent of any knowledge of the libel contained in the work disseminated by him" (at 180, italics supplied).
 There may well be scope for argument in any particular case as to what the internet equivalent of the article or "thing" or "work" whose contents are known to the publisher should be taken to be. However, that debate is in my view of little consequence. The important question is whether the publisher knew or can properly be expected to have known the content of the article being published. Eady J stated that knowledge of "the relevant words" contained in the article complained of must be shown. That should be taken to mean that the publisher must know or be taken to know the content—not necessarily every single word posted—but the gist or substantive content of what is being published, to qualify as a first or main publisher. Such knowledge may exist in relation to the content of a particular posting or a particular discussion thread or group of discussion threads, it being irrelevant whether the provider realised that such content was in law defamatory (Bunt -v- Tilley ). I reject in any event the appellants' suggestion that a discussion forum provider should be treated as having knowledge of the content of every message posted on the forum and deemed to be a first or main publisher thereof.
The control criterion
 The requirement that a first or main publisher must also be shown to have control over the published content (meaning the ability and opportunity to prevent its publication) reflects the law's policy of mitigating the strict publication rule in relation to a person who plays a less important role in the publication process and thus does not know the content being published or can do nothing to prevent its publication. Conversely, if the person concerned was aware of the article's content and had the opportunity to prevent its dissemination, there is no reason in principle for excluding the strict publication rule…
 In Bunt -v- Tilley, Eady J pointed to knowledge and control (meaning "an opportunity to prevent the publication") as the basis for allocating responsibility :
"In determining responsibility for publication in the context of the law of defamation, it seems to me to be important to focus on what the person did, or failed to do, in the chain of communication. It is clear that the state of a defendant's knowledge can be an important factor. If a person knowingly permits another to communicate information which is defamatory, when there would be an opportunity to prevent the publication, there would seem to be no reason in principle why liability should not accrue."
"The test it appears to me is this: having regard to all the facts of the case is the proper inference that by not removing the defamatory matter the defendant really made himself responsible for its continued presence in the place where it had been put?"
"The important question is whether the publisher knew or can properly be expected to have known the content of the article being published. Eady J stated that knowledge of 'the relevant words' contained in the article complained of must be shown. That should be taken to mean that the publisher must know or be taken to know the content—not necessarily every single word posted—but the gist or substantive content of what is being published…"
i) Following the complaint by Mr Monir, Mr Wood knew the gist and substantive content of the 4 May Tweet, even if he had not looked at its particular wording. There was nothing more that Mr Wood needed to be told about the 4 May Tweet (a) to understand the seriously defamatory nature of the what was being complained about; (b) to understand that the Tweet was being published on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account; and (c) to enable him, without much difficulty, to locate it on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. In the particular circumstances of this case, being told Mr Monir's name would not actually have assisted and/or seeing the actual wording of the 4 May Tweet would have provided Mr Wood with any further material information.
ii) Had he chosen to take the complaint seriously, rather than dismissing it, it would have been a simple matter for Mr Wood to locate the 4 May Tweet and, having done so, it would have taken a matter of minutes for it to be deleted. The process of removing it was not onerous in the slightest.
iii) In colloquial terms, Mr Wood has a direct responsibility for publications on the Bristol UKIP Twitter account (a) because the account was registered in his name and he retained control over it; and (b) because he was the Chairman of Bristol UKIP. As a result, it was his responsibility (if not his duty) to take the complaint he received seriously and, if he was in any doubt about to what the complaint related, to investigate it properly. In my judgment, however, Mr Wood had all the information he needed to know full well the nature of Mr Monir's complaint. Mr Wood may have been irritated by the manner in which he raised his complaint, but that was no excuse for ignoring or dismissing it.
ISSUE 4: SERIOUS HARM
i) The serious harm threshold is designed to weed out trivial and undeserving claims: Lachaux , ; Economou ;
ii) If the meaning the publication is found to bear conveys a serious defamatory imputation, an inference of serious reputational harm ordinarily can and should be drawn: Lachaux ;
iii) The seriousness of the reputational harm is evaluated having regard to the seriousness of the imputation conveyed by the words used, whether an allegation of fact or expression of opinion: coupled, where necessary or appropriate, with the context in which the words are used: Lachaux ; Morgan ; Doyle ;
iv) An inference of serious harm can, in principle, be rebutted by evidence; for example by demonstrating that none of the publishees thought any the less of the claimant by reason of the publication. But evidence going beyond the words themselves, and the context and extent of publication, will be more likely to be relevant to quantum: Lachaux ; Doyle ;
v) In mass media cases (where all the publishees cannot be identified) it is almost impossible to advance evidence that they did not believe the allegation made against the claimant and in such cases the inference of serious harm may well become "unanswerable": Dhir ; Lachaux ;
vi) But, where the publishees are identifiable, a defendant may have a more realistic prospect of displacing the inference of serious harm: Dhir . For example, in Bode -v- Mundell  EWHC 2533 (QB), Warby J granted summary judgment for the defendant as the claimant had no real prospect of showing serious harm. In respect of a limited circulation email, the evidence demonstrated that the recipients did not believe the allegation made against the claimant.
vii) Serious harm to reputation is not a 'numbers game'; very serious harm to reputation can be caused by publication to a small number of publishees: Sobrinho ; Dhir [55(i)]; Doyle .
viii) The requirement is to show serious harm caused to the reputation of the claimant in the eyes of the publishees; not damage to the claimant's reputation in the eyes of people generally: Dhir -. The harm caused to a claimant's reputation by the publication of a seriously defamatory allegation to one person in the eyes of that person is a constant. It does not change if the same allegation is published to hundreds of other people or to no-one else. The number of people to whom the defamatory imputation is published goes not to the fact of the serious harm but to its extent. And, as such, is relevant not to liability but to the award of damages (if it arises).
ix) If a defendant is unable to rebut the inference of serious harm, but contends that a claim should nevertheless be dismissed because it involves only a very small-scale publication, it is to the Jameel jurisdiction that the defendant must turn: Lachaux -; Dhir . The issue is then whether the limited number of publishees (and the likely reputational harm occasioned by the publication) means that there has been no real and substantial tort, or the cost of continued litigation is "out of all proportion" to what can be achieved: Jameel (Yousef) -v- Dow Jones & Co Inc  QB 946 -.
i) Mr Adalat stated that he knew the 4 May Tweet was false because he knew that Mr Monir did not drive, still less was he a taxi driver: "so the Tweet obviously had its facts wrong".
ii) Shazana Monir did not deal in her witness statement whether she believed the allegation made against her brother. In cross-examination, she agreed with Mr Hirst that she knew that Mr Monir was not a taxi driver and that he had never been arrested for child sexual exploitation. Mr Hirst did not ask Ms Monir whether she believed the allegation.
iii) Shamraz Monir stated in his witness statement that he had explained to people who had asked him about the 4 May Tweet that his brother was not a taxi driver and had not been suspended for child grooming. In cross-examination, he accepted that he knew immediately that the allegation made against his brother was not correct; in other words, he did not believe it. Although Shamraz told those who asked him about the 4 May Tweet that the allegation was not true, there is no evidence as to whether those who asked accepted his assurance that the allegation was not true.
iv) Shabir Daad did not identify Mr Monir from the 4 May Tweet, so I exclude him from consideration of this issue.
v) Mohammed Hussain stated in his witness statement that, when he saw the 4 May Tweet, he assumed that the allegation that the two individuals shown with Sarah Champion MP were "child-grooming taxi drivers" was true. In cross-examination he maintained that he did think that the allegation made against Mr Monir was true, and he added that that was why he had decided to share it with his WhatsApp groups. He accepted that he had not sent any retraction to the same groups when he subsequently learned that the allegation was false.
vi) Their discussion of the Eddie English Facebook Post (see  above) demonstrates that Marc David, Jake Cresswell, Tyler Dyas and Liam Terrence all believed that the allegation made against Mr Monir was true. There is no evidence that Barry Horner and/or Sue Horner thought that the allegation was false.
vii) There is no evidence that any other person who saw the 4 May Tweet disbelieved the allegation made against Mr Monir. This encompasses those who received the 4 May Tweet via WhatsApp from Mr Hussain and who were able to identify Mr Monir from his photograph.
i) The 4 May Tweet was accessible online between 4 May 2015 and 1 June 2015, just 28 days. Anyone reading it would have done so just after the time of publication. The medium does not lend itself to any reasonable inference of continuing publication. Generally, he submits, people tweet and move on, as in conversation. The time the 4 May Tweet was accessible was far less than the period which the Court of Appeal in Tamiz -v- Google  1 WLR 2151 ruled was an insignificant enough duration so as not to amount to a real and substantial tort.
ii) Based upon Mr Wong's conclusion as to "active accounts" (see [124(ii)] above), dissemination of the 4 May Tweet was to some 250 followers of Bristol UKIP not the large-scale newspaper circulations which were the subject of Lachaux or Economou, but more in the nature of a personal communication. As Mr Langley had said in his evidence, the 4 May Tweet would have been "very quickly buried by later tweets".
iii) Mr Monir has not produced any emails, tweets, or messages which shows an independent third party asking him about the 4 May Tweet.
iv) Mr Monir has not identified sufficient persons who identified him so as to amount to serious harm (Economou, first instance, at ). Mr Monir's case that his reputation has been seriously harmed is based on publication to close family (who would know he was not a taxi driver or a child-groomer) and two close friends who knew it was not true.
v) Only one person identified, Mohammed Hussain, recognised Mr Monir and believed he was a child-groomer taxi driver. This is not enough for a case on serious harm where a claimant is not named in a publication.
vi) Any evidence or inference that might otherwise lead to the conclusion that the words complained of have caused serious harm to Mr Monir's reputation is rebutted by evidence that:
a) up to 29 or more other people published contemporaneously the identical or similar information about Mr Monir, almost without exception to very much larger audiences on Twitter;
b) Mr Monir has taken no steps whatsoever to disable or have removed that material;
c) the identical or similar material remains online to this day and can be accessed by anyone at any time. Mr Monir must be taken to have concluded that the ubiquity of his image alongside a statement that the person pictured is a child-grooming taxi driver does not tend to cause his reputation serious harm. No other inference can reasonably be drawn from the fact that the allegation sued upon has been allowed to remain in so many internet locations for some 3 years; and
d) Mr Monir's response to the publication is incompatible with the 4 May Tweet causing serious harm to his reputation. Mr Monir (or members of his family) made complaints to Facebook to have similar material removed but he did not similarly contact Twitter in relation to the 4 May Tweet.
vii) By the time Mr Monir commenced this claim, some 16 months after the 4 May 2015, and 15 months since the Tweet had been deleted, a statement entitled "Bristol UKIP smears local Rotherham resident of Pakistani heritage" had been published on 1 June 2015 on Facebook, Twitter and on the web by TellMama, a non-profit supporting reporting of hate crime against British Muslims. TellMama's statement told readers that one of the individuals in the image "is not a taxi driver, nor has he anything to do with the grooming of young boys or girls" and the Tweet was "malicious and libellous". TellMama's Facebook following is 84,000 and its Twitter following some 26,000. Mr Hirst submits that it is reasonable to infer these large followings will be made up of many in the British Muslim and Pakistani community and will have gone a long way, based on reach alone, to neutralising any damage done by the Tweet, which it expressly criticised. As a result of this act (which Mr Wood says was a sensible step for Mr Monir to take), it cannot be said that the Tweet remained "likely to cause serious harm to reputation".
ISSUE 5: REMEDIES
i) an award of damages;
ii) an injunction to restrain Mr Wood from further publishing the 4 May Tweet or any similar defamatory allegation; and
iii) an order pursuant to s.12 Defamation Act 2013 requiring Mr Wood to publish a summary of this judgment.
Mr Monir is entitled to an order under (i), whereas (ii) and (iii) are discretionary remedies.
 The general principles were reviewed and re-stated by the Court of Appeal in John –v- MGN Ltd  QB 586… Sir Thomas Bingham MR summarised the key principles at pages 607–608 in the following words:
"The successful plaintiff in a defamation action is entitled to recover, as general compensatory damages, such sum as will compensate him for the wrong he has suffered. That sum must  compensate him for the damage to his reputation;  vindicate his good name; and  take account of the distress, hurt and humiliation which the defamatory publication has caused. In assessing the appropriate damages for injury to reputation the most important factor is [a] the gravity of the libel; the more closely it touches the plaintiff's personal integrity, professional reputation, honour, courage, loyalty and the core attributes of his personality, the more serious it is likely to be. [b] The extent of publication is also very relevant: a libel published to millions has a greater potential to cause damage than a libel published to a handful of people. [c] A successful plaintiff may properly look to an award of damages to vindicate his reputation: but the significance of this is much greater in a case where the defendant asserts the truth of the libel and refuses any retraction or apology than in a case where the defendant acknowledges the falsity of what was published and publicly expresses regret that the libellous publication took place. It is well established that [d] compensatory damages may and should compensate for additional injury caused to the plaintiff's feelings by the defendant's conduct of the action, as when he persists in an unfounded assertion that the publication was true, or refuses to apologise, or cross-examines the plaintiff in a wounding or insulting way. Although the plaintiff has been referred to as "he" all this of course applies to women just as much as men."
 I have added the numbering in this passage, which identifies the three distinct functions performed by an award of damages for libel. I have added the lettering also to identify, for ease of reference, the factors listed by Sir Thomas Bingham. Some additional points may be made which are relevant in this case:
(1) The initial measure of damages is the amount that would restore the claimant to the position he would have enjoyed had he not been defamed: Steel and Morris –v- United Kingdom (2004) 41 EHRR , .
(2) The existence and scale of any harm to reputation may be established by evidence or inferred. Often, the process is one of inference, but evidence that tends to show that as a matter of fact a person was shunned, avoided, or taunted will be relevant. So may evidence that a person was treated as well or better by others after the libel than before it.
(3) The impact of a libel on a person's reputation can be affected by:
a) Their role in society. The libel of Esther Rantzen [Rantzen –v- Mirror Group Newspapers (1986) Ltd  QB 670] was more damaging because she was a prominent child protection campaigner.
b) The extent to which the publisher(s) of the defamatory imputation are authoritative and credible. The person making the allegations may be someone apparently well-placed to know the facts, or they may appear to be an unreliable source.
c) The identities of the publishees. Publication of a libel to family, friends or work colleagues may be more harmful and hurtful than if it is circulated amongst strangers. On the other hand, those close to a claimant may have knowledge or viewpoints that make them less likely to believe what is alleged.
d) The propensity of defamatory statements to percolate through underground channels and contaminate hidden springs, a problem made worse by the internet and social networking sites, particularly for claimants in the public eye: C –v- MGN Ltd (reported with Cairns –v- Modi at  1 WLR 1051) .
(4) It is often said that damages may be aggravated if the defendant acts maliciously. The harm for which compensation would be due in that event is injury to feelings.
(5) A person who has been libelled is compensated only for injury to the reputation they actually had at the time of publication. If it is shown that the person already had a bad reputation in the relevant sector of their life, that will reduce the harm, and therefore moderate any damages. But it is not permissible to seek, in mitigation of damages, to prove specific acts of misconduct by the claimant, or rumours or reports to the effect that he has done the things alleged in the libel complained of: Scott –v- Sampson (1882) QBD 491, on which I will expand a little. Attempts to achieve this may aggravate damages, in line with factor (d) in Sir Thomas Bingham's list.
(6) Factors other than bad reputation that may moderate or mitigate damages, on some of which I will also elaborate below, include the following:
a) "Directly relevant background context" within the meaning of Burstein –v- Times Newspapers Ltd  1 WLR 579 and subsequent authorities. This may qualify the rules at (5) above.
b) Publications by others to the same effect as the libel complained of if (but only if) the claimants have sued over these in another defamation claim, or if it is necessary to consider them in order to isolate the damage caused by the publication complained of.
c) An offer of amends pursuant to the Defamation Act 1996.
d) A reasoned judgment, though the impact of this will vary according to the facts and nature of the case.
(7) In arriving at a figure it is proper to have regard to (a) Jury awards approved by the Court of Appeal: Rantzen 694, John, 612; (b) the scale of damages awarded in personal injury actions: John, 615; (c) previous awards by a judge sitting without a jury: see John 608.
(8) Any award needs to be no more than is justified by the legitimate aim of protecting reputation, necessary in a democratic society in pursuit of that aim, and proportionate to that need: Rantzen... This limit is nowadays statutory, via the Human Rights Act 1998."
Extent of publication
Impact upon Mr Monir
i) As a result of the 4 May Tweet, Mr Monir became greatly distressed and isolated, was diagnosed with depression and is now on prescription medication.
ii) Mr Monir has received counselling for moderate to severe anxiety and lives in fear of physical attacks and reprisals. His confidence and financial position, family and social life have diminished as a result.
iii) Mr Monir has had eggs thrown at his property and a brick thrown through a window.
iv) He has experienced being vilified by members of his community, such as being called "Jimmy Savile" by another parent when dropping off his son at his primary school, where he was previously a Parent Governor. Mr Santos contends that the causal link between this incident and the 4 May Tweet is established through the Eddie English Facebook Post, which was read by four persons who knew Mr Monir and even reached his next-door neighbour.
v) As to Mr Monir's particular sensitivity, he was already experiencing a rise in hate crime, violence towards Muslims and extreme right-wing sentiment in Rotherham. Of particular concern to Mr Monir was the brutal and unprovoked racially-aggravated murder of an elderly Muslim man with a meat cleaver. At the time of the attack, the murderers accused the victim of being a "groomer". Mr Monir therefore felt extremely threatened and feared for his and his young family's safety following publication of the libel.
i) In ZAM -v- CFW and TFW  EMLR 27 damages of £100,000 were awarded (with a further £20,000 for distress and harassment). The defendants had made false allegations that the claimant misappropriated the family trust and was a paedophile. The number of publishees was estimated in the hundreds or, at most, the low thousands and included those responsible for a school of which the claimant was a governor.
ii) In Lillie -v- Newcastle City Council  EWHC 1600 (QB) the defendant's review team maliciously published allegations that the claimants were part of a paedophile ring abusing children. The Court awarded damages of £200,000.
iii) In Bryce -v- Barber (unreported, 26 July 2010) the defendant posted indecent images of children on the claimant's Facebook profile with the comment "Ray, you like kids and you are gay so I bet you love this picture, Ha ha". The claimant suggested around 800 people (his Facebook friends and those on the network) could have seen the post. The defendant removed the post within 24 hours. Tugendhat J awarded £10,000 for stress and enduring anxiety brought by knowing that those close to him would have seen the image.
i) Despite Mr Monir's requests in correspondence, Mr Wood has consistently refused to apologise to Mr Monir for the very serious and damaging libel of him.
ii) Mr Wood republished the image from the Tweet (with a red circle around Mr Monir's face) via the Bristol UKIP and his own Twitter accounts, as well as Facebook and Instagram. This was done on multiple occasions in 2016. It is contended that these republications led to others repeating the defamatory sting, as would have been reasonably foreseeable to Mr Monir, and has caused Mr Monir great additional distress.
iii) Despite his ability to use the Bristol UKIP Twitter account during the course of these proceedings, Mr Wood has consistently refused to mitigate the damage caused to Mr Monir by publishing a correction and apology via the Bristol UKIP Twitter account. Whilst Mr Wood contends in his Defence that he no longer has responsibility for the Bristol UKIP Twitter account since stepping down as Chairman, he has managed to secure the publication of the Tweets identified in (ii) above.
iv) Mr Wood still refuses to acknowledge that he has done anything wrong. Even on his own account of the subsequent phone call with Mr Monir, Mr Wood stated in his evidence: "I did not apologise on behalf of myself because I have done nothing wrong".
v) Daniel Fear, the current Chairman of Bristol UKIP, accepted in evidence that he would have been prepared to publish an apology had Mr Wood asked him to do so. Mr Wood's claim while giving evidence that "no letter from [Mr Monir's solicitors] has ever asked for an apology" was incorrect: the first solicitors' letter sent to Mr Wood had requested an apology.
vi) Mr Santos contends that, throughout the litigation, Mr Wood has persistently made unfounded allegations of dishonesty and improper conduct against Mr Monir and this has only added to the already severe distress caused by the original libel and the considerable stresses of litigation. Mr Monir explained in oral evidence that he had found the litigation very tough and that it had made him stressed and anxious.
Mitigation of damages
i) Mr Wood immediately deleted the 4 May Tweet when notified of it by PS Wood.
ii) He conveyed his apologies and regret to both PS Wood and Mr Monir when he spoke to them in June 2015.
iii) He has not attempted to justify what was said; rather the contrary, he has always said that it was inappropriate and regrettable.
iv) Mr Wood has left UKIP and has no authority to arrange a tweeted apology. This is for those who now run the branch to agree. He has not been asked to try to secure any retraction by Mr Monir, at any time, including when he spoke to PS Wood and Mr Monir himself in 2015.
v) Mr Hussein had circulated the 4 May Tweet via the WhatsApp Republication yet Mr Monir did not ask him to send a clarification.
vi) Mr Monir told the police that he was dealing with similar material on Facebook by making a request to Facebook to report it as abusive material and have it taken down by Facebook directly. The police advised him this was a good idea, yet it is submitted, inexplicably Mr Monir failed to make any such request to Twitter even though every Tweet has a "report Tweet" function and Twitter operates a 'Hateful Conduct' policy drafted sufficiently widely as to suggest action would have been taken, as it was with Facebook. Mr Hirst invites the Court to draw the inference that Mr Monir made a deliberate choice not to mitigate damage to his reputation, when he knew he was able to.
vii) Equally, it is claimed, Mr Monir did not take the obvious step of simply notifying the branch, UKIP, Mr Wood or any other relevant person in writing that he had a complaint about the 4 May Tweet, despite having already spoken to solicitors. Mr Wood's response on 1 June 2015 shows that the problem could have been quickly addressed. Mr Hirst invites the inference that Mr Monir "took time trying to frame a claim rather than mitigate damage to his reputation".
Decision on damages
Publication of a summary of the judgment
(1) Where a court gives judgment for the claimant in an action for defamation the court may order the defendant to publish a summary of the judgment.
(2) The wording of any summary and the time, manner, form and place of its publication are to be for the parties to agree.
(3) If the parties cannot agree on the wording, the wording is to be settled by the court.
(4) If the parties cannot agree on the time, manner, form or place of publication, the court may give such directions as to those matters as it considers reasonable and practicable in the circumstances.
(5) This section does not apply where the court gives judgment for the claimant under section 8(3) of the Defamation Act 1996 (summary disposal of claims).
Note 1 The Court of Appeal decision in Economou was handed down whilst I was preparing this judgment. On 5 December 2018, Mr Hirst, on behalf of Mr Wood, supplied me with further written submissions on the impact of the decision on the issues I have to decide. I have considered these submissions in reaching my decision as to the impact of Economou in this case. [Back]
Note 1 The Court of Appeal decision in Economou was handed down whilst I was preparing this judgment. On 5 December 2018, Mr Hirst, on behalf of Mr Wood, supplied me with further written submissions on the impact of the decision on the issues I have to decide. I have considered these submissions in reaching my decision as to the impact of Economou in this case. [Back]