Marc Wadsworth, the prominent anti-racism campaigner, journalist and broadcaster from Thornton Heath, has won his libel case against the Jewish Chronicle, with the newspaper agreeing to pay “substantial compensation” and issue an apology.
In an article on the publication’s website in March, the JC falsely accused Wadsworth of being part of a group of current and ex-Labour members targeting Jewish activists in the party.
Mrs Justice Collins Rice, who oversaw the public apology, said: “This was a serious mistake for the Jewish Chronicle to have made.”
Wadsworth was expelled from the Labour Party in 2018 on unsubstantiated charges, which he still disputes today.
Speaking on the steps of the High Court in London yesterday, Wadsworth said, “The Labour Party turned me into a media target by unjustly expelling me in 2018.
“My reinstatement campaign has received huge support since, including from Jewish people and many others.
“I am an ally of Jews, Palestinians and all other oppressed people and will defend my reputation as a lifelong anti-racist campaigner against any media that libels me, as I have done successfully in this instance. The witchhunt against the Labour left, accelerated by the current leadership, must be halted.”
The High Court heard that the JC article focused on allegations that a group of Labour members — including people said to have been suspended or expelled — were part of a plan to track down Jewish Labour activists at their homes to “take care” of them.
Dominic Garner, representing Wadsworth, said his client was a civil rights campaigner, lecturer and author who had been wrongly associated with the group in the article.
He said: “The article named Mr Wadsworth in this context, as well as featuring a prominent photograph of him in its print edition, stating that Mr Wadsworth had given a speech at a launch event for the group — and in turn, alleging that he was both a member of the group and either involved or complicit in its activities.
“As the defendant has accepted, the allegations in the article about Mr Wadsworth were wholly untrue.
“In fact, Mr Wadsworth is not and has never been a member of the group to which the article referred.
“He neither spoke at nor attended the event in question, and has not been involved whatsoever in the group’s activities.”
Adelaide Lopez, representing the newspaper, said: “Jewish Chronicle Media Limited withdraws these false allegations and apologises to Mr Wadsworth.”
In a statement, Wadsworth said: “I was deeply distressed that the Jewish Chronicle did not check its facts or contact me before its article was written.
“Instead, it chose to publish serious and unfounded allegations, linking me with potential criminality, which go to the heart of my reputation as a journalist and long-standing campaigner against racism.
“I am pleased that the publisher has now apologised for these libels and agreed to set the record straight, and in turn that I am now able to draw a line under this matter.”
Wadsworth founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991, and his work includes liaising with the Lawrence family in their attempt to secure justice for their murdered son, Stephen.
Wadsworth’s strenuous efforts to restore his reputation have been going on for five years, since attending a press conference launching the Chakrabarti report on antisemitism in Labour in 2016, where he remarked that the then MP, Ruth Smeeth, was working “hand in hand” with the Daily Telegraph.
The incident, which was filmed, showed Smeeth sitting with, and in conversation with, a Telegraph reporter at the Labour Party event.
Yesterday’s outcome of this latest libel action brought widespread support for Wadsworth today, including from Lester Holloway, the former editor of New Nation and The Voice newspapers and some time councillor in Sutton. Holloway is now the TUC’s policy officer on anti-racism.
He tweeted, “Marc has always been a resolute campaigner against antisemitism and all forms of racism. He remains expelled from Labour over an incident captured on video where the evidence does not support the allegation. He should be readmitted.
“The treatment of Marc Wadsworth matters because the link between the anti-racism movement and the need to keep fighting antisemitism matters. Marc is one of several lifelong black anti-racism campaigners accused of antisemitism.
“Most cases were grossly unfair.”
- Marc Wadsworth’s latest published book, the highly acclaimed Comrade Sak: Shapurji Saklatvala MP: A Political Biography, published by Peepal Tree Press, is available now for Inside Croydon readers at a 25 per cent discount. Click here to order your copy
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