Party Secretary: NEC DID NOT Make UKIP ‘Liable For Collins Damages’
If you have been on Twitter or Facebook over the course of the day you may have seen a claim made by some supporters of Henry Bolton that the NEC has signed a document which has made UKIP liable for any damages arising from the Jane Collins libel case.
Three Labour MP’s successfully brought a case against Ms Collins for defamation over remarks she made about Rotherham’s child abuse scandal and were awarded £54,000 each in damages. Ms Collins also faces a bill for costs of something around £196,000.
Mr Bolton’s supporters claimed that this could amount to a bill of anything approaching £600,000, something that we all know the Party cannot afford. However, Party Secretary, Adam Richardson has released a statement clarifying the matter:
UKIP has been added as a party to the Jane Collins defamation case as to costs only. This is because in 2014-2015 UKIP financially assisted Ms Collins MEP with her defamation case out of a moral obligation.
This made UKIP a ‘pure funder’ and as such UKIP should not be found liable for any costs incurred as a result of Jane Collins’ case, regardless of the amount.
The 3 Labour MPs that sued Ms Collins are pursuing UKIP for these costs through the courts but UKIP denies all liability and is seeking to robustly defend this claim.
The majority of NEC members have changed since this date, as has the leader, chairman, treasurer and party secretary. The current NEC are however conducting this robust defence.
Let’s take the last point first because in many ways it nails the lie most succinctly. It is a ridiculous to make this accusation when the people that signed the Party up for this were entirely different people. Below you will see Mr Bolton claims to have the ability to travel through time and remember a meeting he wasn’t even at but not all of us are so blessed and I am pretty sure no one on the NEC has a Marty McFly Back To The Future style DeLorean parked in their garage:
Secondly, legally speaking, the decision to award damages against third-party backers is rare as you can read here. A ‘pure funder’ is distinct from a ‘professional funder’ in English law, courts are often minded to make professional funders liable because they are backing the defendant for some kind of gain, however, philanthropic funder who is not seeking any benefit is again made liable rarely:
The court made clear that orders for costs would rarely be made against charitable or philanthropic donors who on the information before them had reasonable grounds for believing the claim to be a reasonable one and who was supporting the claim for reasons other than commercial. That distinction may remain important when one considers the liability of third party funders for adverse costs.
Mr Richardson makes clear in his statement that UKIP is a ‘pure funder’ and therefore one which is unlikely to be found liable. So, yet again what we have is a sad and desperate attempt by supporters of an ailing leader to smear their way out of debating the real issues.