Carole Cadwalladr is crowdfunding to support her investigation into alleged links between Brexit, Trump and Russia as she fights a libel case brought by prominent Leave campaigner Arron Banks.
The freelance journalist (pictured, right) fears she could lose her home and be made bankrupt by the defamation claim, which could see her facing a legal bill of at least £1m.
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Cadwalladr exposed Cambridge Analytica in the Observer last year for having harvested millions of Facebook users’ data in an attempt to use it to influence the Trump elections and Brexit vote.
She is now investigating what she has claimed are possible links between the funding of the Leave campaign in the 2016 EU Referendum, Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia.
Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore has said Cadwalladr’s claims about its funding are “far-fetched and just not true”.
Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks (pictured, left) objects to claims made by Cadwalladr in two recent speeches that he was offered money by the Russian Government and had lied about his relationship with the regime.
Banks has always denied receiving money from Russia.
He filed defamation proceedings against Cadwalladr in the High Court last month claiming an “unlimited” amount in damages and £10,528 in court fees plus legal costs to be confirmed.
Cadwalladr’s team expect legal costs in the case, which they say is “entirely without merit”, to reach seven figures and therefore push her towards bankruptcy.
She told Press Gazette last month that despite offers of crowdfunding support for the legal case she would rather people put their money towards “more research and investigation into what he [Banks] and others are doing and did during the referendum”.
Her Go Fund Me page, set up last week, asks for support for her work while she is “tied up in litigation for months”.
Writing on the crowdfunding page, Cadwalladr said: “These tactics cannot win. We desperately need more reporting on this vital subject not less.
“What I need now is more resources to build a team to pursue the investigation with me, to amplify the story and to continue the fight back for democracy. Every penny will be spent supporting journalism that is more necessary than ever.
“Please join me if you can help me to continue to pursue the truth.”
Cadwalladr’s lawyer Ravi Naik, of ITN Solicitors, said: “Litigation is expensive, time-consuming and draining.
“British defamation laws are prohibitively expensive, to the point that the law can be used to silence a journalist in her efforts to report on the Leave campaign.
“Carole has done more than anyone to reveal electoral irregularities during the Brexit referendum. There is widespread public interest in Carole getting these investigations to a wider audience and we have every confidence that a court will agree.”
Wigmore told Press Gazette last week: “This is not about shutting a journalist or an organisation down, it’s about ensuring they report accurately and fairly and in Carole’s case she continues to make assertions which are factually far-fetched and just not true.”
Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay and Press Gazette