If there’s one subject this site can speak about with authority, readers, it’s defamation. We’re now in the FIFTH YEAR of a court action we brought against former Scottish Labour branch office manager Kezia Dugdale after she’d defamed us in the Daily Record and in the Scottish Parliament with an appalling personal smear which a sheriff and three senior appeal court judges all found to be unequivocally false and defamatory.
But they also ruled that because Dugdale is a drooling halfwitted imbecile who doesn’t know what simple words mean she was entitled to use her stupidity and ignorance as a defence, and even now (the original smear having happened way back in 2017) our lawyers are still negotiating with her lawyers over the final costs.
So trust us when we tell you this: today’s front-page lead in the Herald On Sunday is a great big pile of bollocks.
Because we know whereof we speak.
The story was the subject of heated debate on Twitter last night.
Alarm bells will be ringing loudly in alert readers’ heads already at the involvement in the story of Hannah Rodger, who is the pet journalist of the SNP’s transactivist wing and author of a string of stories pushing their various whines and gripes and leaks aimed at damaging Cherry and other gender-critical voices in the party.
But even by Rodgers’ abysmal standards this is grim stuff. Let’s look at that last claim, for a start. Is the online version “exactly what is printed in today’s paper”?
The version trailed last night starts with these words:
But the only piece on the Herald’s site this morning on the story is completely different, with a different headline and opening paragraph.
So we immediately know that Rodger is lying. But we knew that anyway, because it’s clear that what’s actually happened is that Cherry has sent the actor – notoriously foul, obnoxious, transactivist bully David Paisley, a man obsessed with trying to shut down gay advocacy group the LGB Alliance and a whole range of other feminist voices – a letter, and the Herald is relying on a casual description of that as “legal action”.
That’s why Rodger makes the ludicrous statement that the headline “does not imply” that Cherry has taken COURT action. Because any normal person reading about “legal action” and “a defamation action” would reasonably assume that it was a court matter.
Because that’s what legal action actually is.
A letter, even one that’s delivered via solicitors, is NOT a defamation claim. It’s just a request. It’s in fact an attempt to AVOID legal action. “Legal action” is a term that actually means something specific.
You’re not taking legal action until you’re in a courtroom, or have at least initiated court proceedings. A letter is actually saying “please settle this matter or I may instigate legal action in the future“. As that last definition notes, it’s a threat of legal action – it is not in itself legal action.
So Rodger and the Herald are making a statement that simply and unambiguously isn’t true, and then trying feebly to hide behind the fact that readers won’t understand the proper definition of the term. Because no “legal action” has in fact taken place, Rodger has to try to pretend that the story isn’t implying what everybody and their blind dog knows it is.
Journalistically the article is a shambolic train-wreck of sub-student-newspaper-level drivel. Incredibly, it doesn’t actually bother to quote or even paraphrase either David Paisley’s allegedly defamatory tweet or the tweet from Cherry it was a response to, so bewildered readers are left trying to put together a jigsaw with literally no pieces.
The whole piece is, as anyone with experience of Rodger’s work would have been expecting, a one-sided hatchet job whose true purpose is to smear Cherry in the service of the transcult. It gives Paisley an unchallenged platform to bleat about the terrible hurt he’s supposedly suffered and cites unspecified “threats” and “harassment” that he’s supposedly been subjected to without providing a shred of detail or evidence for any of it.
(And implies that in merely sending a private letter Cherry is somehow responsible for the unidentified, alleged actions of these unnamed people.)
Amazingly, it then attempts to use the fact that Cherry has been defamed in the past to paint her as a serial bully.
But what that paragraph actually tells us is that Cherry WAS defamed by Pink News and WAS subjected to false complaints by a former employee, not merely that she “accused” them of such things. Cherry was the victim in both cases. She was fully entitled to defend herself against malicious falsehoods and quite properly did so.
So the long and the short of it is that Hannah Rodger and the Herald have lied, then they’ve lied about lying, then they’ve tried to cover up the lie, and finally they’ve lied about that as well.
The story is a barely-veiled hatchet job, the latest in a long series of spurious attacks on Cherry by the transcult and their tame hack, and the fact that Scottish PEN have allowed themselves to be roped into it – providing Rodger with the thin nail on which the whole piece shakily hangs – is a matter of shame and disgrace, especially from an organisation which has remained silent about countless intimidatory attacks on, and silencings of, gender-critical female journalists.
Sadly, the article itself is just about sufficiently vague, incoherent and weasel-worded that it probably doesn’t itself reach the threshold required for defamation. It’s simply a piece of garbage that says far more about Hannah Rodger and Donald Martin, and the state of the Scottish media in general, than it does about Joanna Cherry.