Jewish Chronicle to pay damages over anti-Semitism libel

Liverpool Labour activist Audrey White.

The Jewish Chronicle on Thursday apologized to a Labour activist for libeling her over “anti-Semitism.”

The UK newspaper admitted on its website it had published “allegations about Mrs Audrey White” which were “untrue.”

It said it had agreed to pay White a sum in damages plus her legal costs.

White on Friday told The Electronic Intifada that it was “a concrete victory for Riverside” – the Liverpool Labour Party group to which she belongs – “and every one of us under attack and vilified by this newspaper.”

Asked to comment on the amount of damages, she would only say it was a substantial sum.

A series of articles by the paper’s reporter Lee Harpin last year had put White at “the center of bullying claims against Jewish MP Dame Louise Ellman” – then the member of Parliament for the Liverpool Riverside constituency.

Ellman is still the chairperson of Israeli embassy front group Labour Friends of Israel, despite quitting as a Labour MP in October.

The libel settlement comes after a UK press regulator in December ruled that the paper’s four articles about White had been “significantly misleading” and that the paper had engaged in “unacceptable” obstruction of their investigation.

As part of the settlement, White said, the paper had agreed to delete all four articles from their website. They had all been removed as of Friday morning.

Lies about “Labour anti-Semitism”

White told The Electronic Intifada that the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the regulator, had told her it was their longest ever adjudication process with a newspaper.

She said she had fought the case not for herself but for the wider left, who have been constantly attacked over the last five years by unsubstantiated allegations of anti-Semitism.

She highlighted the case of Jackie Walker, the Black Jewish anti-Zionist expelled from Labour last year on false charges.

White said of the libel damages that she would “spend the money on the movement” and that she would organize a film showing in Liverpool during Labour conference in September.

The Jewish Chronicle has been at the forefront of reporting on exaggerated and fabricated allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party over the last five years.

It also has a long record of anti-Palestinian reporting.

In August last year, it was forced to pay $60,000 in libel damages to InterPal, a British charity which aids Palestinians.

Financial crisis

The paper had falsely attacked the charity with insinuations of “terrorist” activity.

Such payouts cannot be helping The Jewish Chronicle with a recent financial crisis.

Last year it was reported that the paper had required a major cash injection by “community-minded individuals” to avoid closure.

And earlier this month the weekly title announced it would be merging with the Jewish News “to secure the financial future of both newspapers.”

But the merger would require even more funding to proceed, the papers said in the statement. Job cuts seem likely.

According to their most recent accounts, the group that owns the Jewish Chronicle’s newspaper and website operates at a loss of more than $2 million, while the News has liabilities of more than $1.9 million.

Both figures were even greater than in the previous financial year.

The Jewish Chronicle has been contacted for comment.

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Audrey is a heroine. We should all celebrate her. The only pity is that she isn't a candidate for the Labour leadership. Her courage and tenacity are exemplary and she has shown how we can win the fight against the despicable allegations of anti-Semitism generated mainly by apologists for the vile racist policies of the Israeli State towards the Palestinians for the past 72 years. how many more of the 2000 + Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism are as innocent as Audrey? And what a bad light this shines on the sinister actions and motivations of Louise Ellman. Her false allegations against Audrey, her enthusiastic parading of them around tv and radio studios shows the depths supporters of Israeli racism will sink to. Should we conclude that Hodge, Mann, Berger and the rest are tarred with the same brush? We certainly know Corbyn is no more guilty of racism than Audrey. And who else might have been traduced by the Jewish Chronicle or other papers? This whole circus has been a malicious, factitious attempt to depict anyone left of Tony Blair (perhaps we should call him Commissar Blair after his recent pronouncement that the membership of the Labour Party should be "replaced" - gulags on the Yorkshire Moors?)as an anti-Semite. It has seen innocent members suspended and left in limbo for months while the manipulative Party bureaucracy grinds on in its Stalinist manner. It has driven the candidates for leadership to call themselves Zionists or Zionist sympathisers, which takes the Party to the edge of an abyss of support for an apartheid regime.Audrey has shown how the grass roots can fight back. Well done her. Well done Liverpool where no one reads The Sun. A great victory. Let's press on to more and defeat the liars and racists who want to destroy us because we stand for equality, democracy and, of course, Palestinian rights. That is why they attacked us. That is why the JC published lies about Audrey. It's transparent.

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How I wish Jeremy Corbyn had done this when the Israeli smear campaign started up against him.

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Hooray and good for Audrey White. The arrogance and duplicity of the Jewish Chronicle proves that it is not fit to be called a newspaper.

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Totally in agreement.
Labour leadership failing to respond forcefully to the years long smears and innuendos from the from the right - wing Jewish lobby. Indecisive on Brexit. And here we are today, demoralising the besy activists.

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The false accusations of anti-semitism against Corbyn and other members of Labour, so maliciously spread through the billionaire owned Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph in the run-up to the Dec 12th election, were central in discrediting Corbyn. Rabbi Mirvis was allowed the honour of firing the fatal arrow just a couple of weeks before the election, not that he was trying to tell people how to vote of course. The problem of course is the separation of Jewishness, which is wonderful, from Zionism, which is inherently racist through claims of being 'special' and 'chosen'. Jewish Voice for Peace have shown compassion and leadership in their clear statement on Zionism. Any guidance on racism, of any grouping, should not seek to destroy the freedom of speech to debate contentious issues.

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Great news, we need much more of this. This routine accusation of antisemitism when Jews hates someone must be dealt with in this fashion.

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Update: The Jewish Chronicle has announced its closure (April 8, 2020). The paper had a miniscule circulation, and it appears that the pandemic persuaded its financial backers that things weren't going to improve on that front. Of course, when you have access to the immense echo chamber of the BBC and the commercial press in Britain, your low circulation figures become a matter of secondary concern if your aim is the achieve outsized influence in the political arena. The destruction of Jeremy Corbyn had become the central project of the Chronicle. When that aim was accomplished, the publication's restricted horizons evidently returned to the fore in the calculations of its paymasters. Here's an account:
https://www.thecanary.co/uk/ne...

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.