Investigative reporter John Ware is seeking £50,000 in damages over reports attempting to discredit his Panorama programme into anti-Semitism in the Labour party in a rare case of one journalist suing another.
Paddy French, who edits the Press Gang website, published a 16-page pamphlet in December describing the “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” Panorama that aired in July 2019 as “a piece of rogue journalism”.
The main story, headlined “Political storm rages over BBC’s ‘rogue’ journalism”, appeared on Press Gang and in the free online magazine Cold Type, while the pamphlet was sent directly to at least 100 senior BBC managers and handed out to other staff members outside Broadcasting House.
The pamphlet (pictured below) was also sent to “senior and influential” figures at Channel 4 News, Sky News, LBC, The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun on Sunday, according to Ware’s case documents.
The particulars of Ware’s case, filed in the High Court this month, reveal the journalist believes French’s coverage carried the meaning that he is a “rogue journalist who had engaged in dirty tricks by deliberately setting out to sabotage the Labour party’s chances of winning the general election by producing an edition of Panorama in which he dishonestly presented a biased and false portrayal of the case against the Labour Party for anti-Semitism”.
Ware, who wants £50,000 in damages, says the allegations were “inherently serious” and struck “huge upset and damage” to his professional reputation as a journalist.
He noted that the allegations were widely published and targeted at “people on whose estimation [he] depended in order to earn a living and for his self-esteem”.
French is defending the legal action and has so far raised £22,000 of a £100,000 crowdfunding target for a “fighting fund” to help pay his costs.
According to the crowdfunding page, the Press Gang pamphlet “weighed up the evidence and took a critical view of the programme”.
Ware is also suing Jewish Voice for Labour and two of its officers. The group’s website reproduced the introduction to the Press Gang report and linked to an online copy of the pamphlet.
They are also defending the action.
In July Ware received substantial damages and an apology from Labour after the party falsely accused him of inventing quotes, flouting journalistic ethics and knowingly promoting falsehoods in pursuit of a “pre-determined outcome” over the same edition of Panorama.
Labour also apologised and agreed to pay damages to seven whistleblowers who appeared in the programme.