Suicide

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A timeline of Wilson’s victorious case over ‘antisemitism campaigner’ smearers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 1:09am in

How the case developed that ended with uni lecturer James Wilson’s hard-fought win in court after smears put him and his family in danger – and saw LAAS director Newbon commit suicide

Last week, university lecturer James Wilson won £30,000 in damages from two defendants, James Mendelsohn and Edward Cantor, who had contributed to a smear against Wilson by a third ‘antisemitism campaigner’, Peter Newbon, that put the lives of Wilson and his family at risk. Newbon, a director of the right-wing pressure group ‘Labour against Antisemitism’ (LAAS), was a defendant in the case but died by suicide, after a row with his wife, before the case was concluded. The judgement in the Wilson case revealed that Newbon had ‘concealed’ the case from his wife

The case never involved much-loved Jewish author Michael Rosen. However, Newbon’s fellow ‘campaigners’ have tried hard to associate Newbon’s death with Rosen because Rosen dared to complain about the antisemitic doctoring of his famous children’s book, Bear Hunt, in a social media post by Newbon used to attack former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The coroner presiding at the inquest into Newbon’s death made no such connection, nor even mentioned Rosen throughout the proceedings, but this has not stopped the trolls’ efforts.

For readers unfamiliar with the Wilson vs Mendelsohn et al case, below is a timeline showing the chronology of the smears and the subsequent legal victory:

  • Nineteen months before August 2020: a confrontation takes place at Wilson’s children’s school with ‘Mrs A’. The trial judge has ruled that Wilson was blameless, but A posts a picture and libellous claim to Facebook
  • August 2020: Wilson disputes with Newbon on Twitter about the so-called ‘IHRA definition’ of antisemitism – a definition that has been heavily criticised, not least because it doesn’t define, is used to suppress criticism of Israel and enables false accusations of antisemitism – by Jewish legal experts in the UK and even by its original author, Kenneth Stern
  • August 2020: in a manoeuvre typical of so-called ‘antisemitism campaigners’, Newbon resorts quickly to ad hominem personal attacks and responds with libellous  claim that Wilson is a ‘freak who takes photos of kids’
  • August 2020 onwards: Wilson tries to negotiate with Newbon to remove the libel and warns that he will sue if it is not taken down
  • Around August 2020: Newbon’s university employers warn Newbon that he is in breach of the university’s social media code
  • November 2020 Newbon gets into dispute with another person on social media – and receives a second warning from university
  • Around the same time, Newbon also becomes involved with the so-called ‘University Antisemitism Map’ which targets academics who criticise Israel or dispute the right-wing claim of ‘Labour antisemitism’, labelling them antisemitic and identifying their place of work so collaborators can target their employment. Newbon contacts one institution with an allegation about an employee – the employee is exonerated by institution
  • May 2021: Newbon posts a doctored screenshot of a famous ‘tweet’ that originally showed Jeremy Corbyn reading ‘Bear Hunt’ to a group of children. The book held by Corbyn has been photoshopped to make it appear that Corbyn is reading from a notorious antisemitic text, ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’. The image is accompanied by a parody of the words from the Bear Hunt book
  • May 2021: numerous Twitter users object and write to Newbon’s university, whose name is displayed on his Twitter profile. Rosen is informed of the tweet and comments publicly that the doctoring was an antisemitic thing to do. The university says it will take action
  • May 2021: As revealed during the subsequent Wilson case, Newbon prepares an apology to be issued to Rosen, then withdraws the apology and starts legal proceedings, presumably having been advised by lawyers that he has a case against Rosen
  • December 2021: Newbon escalates by issuing a ‘Particulars of Claim’, the formal opening of a libel case, in which he accepts that Rosen is ‘in’ the tweet but claims Rosen is not the target, as the target is Corbyn who is reading Rosen’s book to children in the image. Rosen prepares defence
  • January 2022: Newbon ends his own life after a row with his wife
  • January 2022 onwards: Rosen is blamed for Newbon’s death by various parties either by implication or actual accusations. In articles at the time, another case (ie Wilson’s) is mentioned,  but not by name. Some people note that Newbon was running two cases at the same time, defending against Wilson, claiming against Rosen
  • March 2022: Wilson and Newbon’s wife settle Newbon’s involvement in Wilson’s case against Newbon, Mendelsohn and Cantor
  • February 2023: a High Court judge rejects an attempt by Mendelsohn and Cantor to have the case against them thrown out. The pair had attempted to claim that Wilson could and should have minimised the damage they did to him by backing out earlier from the online conversation in which he was smeared. The judge described the attempt as ‘not very attractive’
  • April 2023: The inquest into Newbon’s death takes place. The coroner makes no mention of either the Wilson or Rosen legal cases. The coroner does mentioned that Newbon had a ‘disagreement’ with his wife and that he left the house in a ‘fragile state’. 
  • December 2023: the Wilson v Mendelsohn, Newbon (deceased) and Cantor case leads to a four-day trial.
  • April 2024: the judge’s findings are published. The judge finds against Cantor and Mendelsohn, dismissing the claims of a string of their witnesses and awarding a total of £30,000 in damages to James Wilson. In the judgment narrative, the late Newbon is described as a bully

The case, which involved the disclosure by Newbon’s widow of his personal communications, also revealed interesting aspects of his conduct toward Michael Rosen and the behaviour of the trolls who have tried to exploit his death to attack Rosen. Analysis to follow.

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Uni lecturer wins damages from ‘antisemitism campaigners’ who endangered him and family

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 14/04/2024 - 12:03am in

James Wilson wins defamation case against Mendelsohn and Cantor in judgment that speaks volumes about methods and attitudes of so-called ‘campaigners against antisemitism’

University lecturer James Wilson has been awarded £30,000 in damages against James Mendelsohn and Edward Cantor for defamatory material published about him during an argument about supposed antisemitism in the Labour party. The false claim, that Mr Wilson was a ‘freak [who] takes pictures of kids’, put Mr Wilson and his partner in fear of physical danger, as well as seriously damaging his reputation. The judge had previously rejected an attempt by Mendelsohn and Cantor to quash the lawsuit.

The judgement lays bare that:

  • Mendelsohn and Cantor kept private information and recycled it to the late Dr Pete Newbon – a director of the anti-left group ‘Labour against Antisemitism’ (LAAS), so that he could use it to defame Wilson – the information was untrue and based a) on statements from someone the judge found to have lied about Wilson and b) on false claims about a university disciplinary investigation. Newbon was described by the judge as ‘bullying’
  • that Newbon, who committed suicided in 2022 after a row with his wife and has been lionised by so-called ‘antisemitism campaigners’ despite his awful record as a serial troll repeatedly disciplined by his employers Northumbria University for his appalling social media conduct, had not told her of Wilson’s lawsuit against him for the defamatory posts
  • Mendelsohn and Cantor refused to apologise, mediate or settle, forcing the legal action to proceed to its conclusion
  • a key witness for the defendants said that she had been offered £5,000 by Mendelsohn and Cantor to testify for them (though the judge did not make a finding that her claim was true)
  • the defendants further abused and insulted Wilson in the course of their defence – despite, in the case of Cantor, being warned by the judge not to do so

The defendants – who represented themselves in court apart from the use of a barrister to cross-examine Wilson – wheeled out a number of figures who are well known for their attacks on the left in an attempt to shore up their defence. The judge dismissed them:

  • University lecturer David Hirsh, a prominent, pro-Israel proponent of supposed ‘left antisemitism’, who wrote an unintentionally revealing elegy to Pete Newbon after his suicide. Hirsh was called to bolster the defendants’ claim that Wilson had shown ‘unwarrantedly aggressive and belligerent conduct’. The judge rejected Hirsh’s evidence that Wilson was ‘aggressive, unpredictable, persistent and irrational’ and found that Wilson’s communications with him over the spreading of a crowdfund for the defendants’ legal costs were ‘not unreasonable’
  • Nathan Comiskey, another advocate of ‘left antisemitism’, who claimed that Wilson contacting him about insulting remarks was ‘highly intrusive and upsetting’ and that he had felt ‘harassed and targeted’. The judge ruled that there was nothing unreasonable in Wilson’s communications and that Comiskey’s testimony did nothing to support the defendants’ claims about supposed unwarranted aggression or belligerence
  • Simon Myerson – a founding signatory of LAAS and supporter of Israel, and a part-time judge recently sanctioned for judicial misconduct for abusive social media posts. Myerson was also a vocal supporter of Newbon, trying to link Jewish author Michael Rosen to Newbon’s suicide, despite a coroner not mentioning Rosen at all in his inquest findings. Mendelsohn and Cantor put forward Wilson’s communications with Myerson, who had shared a post describing Wilson as ‘scum of the earth’, as evidence to support their claim of aggressive behaviour. The judge ruled that it did nothing of the sort
  • Joanne Bell and journalist Adam Cailler – more well-known anti-left activists whose correspondence with Wilson was put forward by the defence as supporting evidence. The judge ruled, “I can find nothing in the emails which is particularly aggressive or which points to conduct of the kind said to demonstrate the pleaded propensity [to aggression]”

A Myerson attack on Michael Rosen

The findings, as well as being clearly welcome to the smeared and endangered James Wilson, illuminate much of the approach of the right-wingers who created and propagated the ‘Labour antisemitism’ smear. While so-called ‘antisemitism campaigners’ – lauded by Hirsh in his document supporting the creation of the so-called ‘Pete Newbon award’ – are ready to doxx, insult, smear and abuse those with whom they disagree, the conduct of the defence and the witnesses it put forward or quoted reveal a group that is quick to describe their supposed hurt and fear when someone challenges them and, even in the most reasonable terms, takes issue with the smears and abuse. Happily, the judge saw through such asymmetrical nonsense.

Mr Wilson, in a statement about the result, said:

The Judge has found that Mr James Mendelsohn gave Dr Pete Newbon confidential and defamatory information about me. It included a screenshot of a Facebook post that said I was “a freak who took pictures of kids” outside a school with a clear photo of me. The impression was, as the Judge decided, like a ‘wanted’ poster. When the Facebook post was published originally, there were incidents that made me fear for the safety of me and my family. The police secured its deletion within 24 hours.

The Judge found that the allegations in the Facebook post were untrue. Mr Mendelsohn took a screenshot of the Facebook post in the 24 hours it was published and, having kept it for 19 months, gave it to Dr Newbon in August 2020 knowing Dr Newbon was making abusive attacks on me on Twitter/X and so he could use the screenshot as a weapon against me.

Dr Newbon and Mr Eddy Cantor then published the screenshot on Twitter/X to, as the Judge has found, abuse and bully me. When Dr Newbon realised the screenshot he and Mr Cantor had published put the safety of me and my family at risk, he took no action. I suspect this was on the basis of advice he got from his solicitor.

Even when Dr Newbon deleted the screenshot from his feed, he sent it to other people by private message. He also invented seriously defamatory allegations about me that he sent to other people.

I did not want the litigation to start. The Defendants could have settled for zero damages and zero costs, and an agreement to delete and not to further publish the screenshot. Litigation only started because all the Defendants, presumably on advice from their solicitors, insisted that publication of the screenshot was in the public interest. They claimed this despite knowing of the intimidatory incidents.

I did not want there to be a trial. What made a trial inevitable was the conduct of the Defendants. I suspect some of the Defendants’ conduct was the result of advice from their solicitors. The Defendants’ conduct included:

  • Refusing to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules on pre-action conduct.
  • Refusing mediation in favour of litigation to drive up my costs and to try to bankrupt me.
  • Making repeated threats to bankrupt me, explicitly referring to the impact this would have on my employment and children.
  • Making false allegations of anti-Semitism to try to get me to abandon my claim.
  • Making misogynistic allegations about my partner and falsely accusing her of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and breaching professional conduct rules.
  • Taking the case to trial having stated: (a) they had no money and I would not recover any costs or damages; (b) they did not care about the outcome (they were “blasé about the result”); (c) they saw what they were doing as some sort of revenge (they “regard this as payback time”).
  • Refusing to engage sensibly in negotiations to settle the whole claim when both Dr Newbon’s widow and I wanted to quietly and cheaply settle the claim and avoid further publicity after Dr Newbon’s tragic death.

The Defendants received encouragement on social media and financial help in pursuing their

defences. The crowdfunding claims made by the Defendants were outrageous. The most distasteful aspect was using Dr Newbon’s death to raise money (“One of us is now sadly silent. Those remaining must today come together and fight”).

The reality was that, having used Dr Newbon’s death to raise money, no serious effort was made to defend Dr Newbon at trial. I tried to protect Dr Newbon’s posthumous reputation by settling the claim without a trial and judgment. Mr Cantor rejected in principle a settlement for nominal damages and zero costs in November 2021. Rather than getting Mr Cantor out of the litigation for a nominal sum, [his lawyer] insisted I would have to pay him money before Mr Cantor would settle the claim. I do not know whether Mr Cantor himself knew about this, given his subsequent expressions of bemusement about being involved in the proceedings at all.

Both Defendants refused an offer to settle before trial for just a quarter of the damages the Judge has awarded. When the trial started, I avoided seeking a finding of harassment against Dr Newbon. It is unfortunate that detailed information about Dr Newbon’s conduct has been put in the public domain after his death.

In my opinion, the Defendants and/or their solicitors tried to cause me devastating reputational and, through the costs of the proceedings, financial harm because they disagree with my views on the State of Israel. The Defendants’ conduct was encouraged by others who share their views.

Dr Newbon also brought a separate defamation claim [against author Michael Rosen, who had complained about the antisemitic editing of an image showing one of his books]. He had intended to apologise for the conduct which was the subject of that case, but seems to have received dreadful advice to sue rather than simply say sorry. He ended up involved in two completely unnecessary and hopeless legal cases.

As the Judge found, it seemed the Defendants were motivated by an intense dislike if not hatred of me. For my part, I have no antipathy towards the Defendants despite their conduct and its impact on me and my family. I have never published confidential or defamatory information about the Defendants. I have never been abusive to them. I never retaliated to the Defendants’ abuse and bullying. It is ironic that while the Defendants are convinced that I am motivated by prejudice against them, it is they who had an obsessive and irrational dislike of me. I find it sad that the Defendants, their former legal advisers, and others believed that defending the State of Israel from criticism justified their conduct to me and my family.

It is my hope that what has happened to the Defendants and their families, and me and my family, never happens to anyone else again. Please do not use the judgment in my case as a reason to attack or abuse others on social media. Mr Mendelsohn and Mr Cantor definitely do not deserve to be attacked or abused and I urge people not to do so.

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Pro-Israeli judge Myerson sanctioned for ‘judicial misconduct’ for social media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/03/2024 - 7:46am in

Well-known Israel advocate and Corbyn critic found to have breached professional standards in attack on trans rights campaigner

Pro-Israeli barrister and part-time judge Simon Myerson KC has been disciplined by the Lady Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor for attacking a transgender rights campaigner on the Twitter/X social media platform.

Myerson supports Israel against accusations of genocide and has frequently attacked Corbyn and his supporters

Myerson received a sanction for ‘judicial misconduct’ after complaints were upheld for a series of offensive tweets. Myerson accused the campaigner of having a “tiny intellect” and making “idiotic statements”. The disciplinary decision can be found here. Myerson broke the principle that judges should avoid participating in online debates on politically controversial topics to maintain the integrity and dignity of their judicial office.


Myerson insists Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza despite its slaughter of tens of thousands of women and children and insulted a Jewish anti-genocide campaigner

Some observers might consider there to be a suggestion of hypocrisy to Myerson’s behaviour. In September 2023, Myerson was a witness against a solicitor accused of posting offensive tweets at a disciplinary tribunal. Myerson’s evidence was that the solicitor’s tweets went “well beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct”, raising questions about whether he gave evidence to a tribunal about another person’s offensive social media posts without telling the tribunal that his own offensive posts were under investigation by the Lady Chief Justice.

Myerson also has a history of controversial comments on Twitter/X about the suicide of the Northumbria University academic Dr Pete Newbon, who died after a row with his wife. Newbon had posted to Twitter/X a meme of an image that originally showed Jeremy Corbyn reading much-loved author Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt to some children, but in which the title of grossly antisemitic forgery ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ had been photoshopped onto the book.

Rosen, who is Jewish, was understandably unhappy that the Protocols had been photoshopped on his book. Myerson suggested that it was Rosen’s tweet in response to Newbon that led to complaints to Newbon’s employer that were linked by Newbon’s supporters to his suicide. Rosen’s tweets were far less offensive than the tweets Myerson has now been disciplined for and the coroner did not mention Rosen or his tweets at all in his inquest findings. Newbon, who had tried to get fellow academics sacked, was in fact on a final warning from the university because of his repeatedly awful conduct on social media – and was doing badly in a lawsuit brought by another individual whom his false claims on social media had endangered. Rosen has featured frequently in Myerson’s Twitter/X timeline.

Myerson, like Newbon a founding signatory of the so-called ‘Labour against antisemitism’ (LAAS) group that weaponised antisemitism allegations to attack then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and whose directors have also attacked Michael Rosen, continues to be active on Twitter/X in support of Israel’s conduct in Gaza. Myerson rejects the finding of the International Court of Justice that Israel may be engaged in genocide. His position is that Israel’s actions in bombing Gaza and refusing to allow aid to enter are proportionate responses to the October 7 attack by Hamas. Most serious legal commentators are clear that Israel’s actions are disproportionate and are likely to amount to war crimes.

M


Simon Myerson criticised a court for finding anti-Zionism is a protected political belief and insists that Israel was not told to implement a ceasefire even though the International Court of Justice told it to stop killing Gazans and protect them instead.

Those reading Myerson’s recent social media output might feel justified in concluding that a change in his behaviour is unlikely. Yesterday he bizarrely accused a Jewish Twitter/X user of having learned to be snide ‘almost certainly aided by being Jewish’ when the user gently mocked the Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy.

Mr Myerson did not respond to a request for comment accompanied by an initial draft of this article.

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