Good Law Project is helping The New European to sue Michelle Mone to recover thousands of pounds the publisher spent responding to threats over its reporting of the PPE Medpro scandal.
Good Law Project and the newspaper have instructed solicitors and Counsel and expect to begin the case against Mone early in the new year.
An action of this sort is highly unusual, but it is necessary to put those making baseless defamation claims on notice. High net worth individuals cannot be given a free hit against campaigners or media organisations.
Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman have both admitted lying to a number of publishers. But the pair have been issuing legal threats against media outlets who published stories about the £200m of Government contracts given to PPE Medpro – stories it now turns out were true all along.
The New European and Good Law Project believe the Guardian, The Mirror, Byline Times, The National, Tortoise – and a number of freelance reporters – have also spent time, money or both dealing with defamation threats connected to their reporting of PPE Medpro.
The case will seek to establish whether there is a legal mechanism to recover those costs where deceit is proven.
Jo Maugham, Executive Director of Good Law Project, said, “The law must not allow itself to become a tool whereby those with money can bully and silence those with none. We aim to create further jeopardy for those who engage in these kinds of egregious breaches.”
Matt Kelly, Editor in Chief of The New European, said, “Mone sought to pretend that the Lady M yacht had nothing to do with her. That is a nonsense. We were forced to spend several thousand pounds of costs in legal fees responding to her mendacious threats.
“We want our money back. More than that, we want to establish a future deterrent against wealthy individuals willing to lie to stymie honest reporting. We look forward to seeing Mone in court in the new year.”