I am delighted to have successfully defended the libel claim brought against me in the High Court by Nina Power and Daniel ‘DC’ Miller. They had sued me in respect of 16 tweets, which I posted in 2018-19, as well as the ‘content warning’ of a webpage archive of some of Mr Miller’s own Twitter publications in which I described the nature of those posts. The judgment handed down today described Ms Power and Mr Miller’s conduct as “aggressive”, “bullying” and that it was “richly deserving of the epithet ‘regrettable’”. The Judge expressly stated that she did not “underestimate the effect it may have had on Mr Turner.”
Mrs Justice Collins Rice found that Ms Power and Mr Miller had failed to demonstrate that the imputations in my publications of which they complained “caused or were likely to cause serious harm to their reputations.” Amongst her findings in reaching this conclusion, the Judge noted that “Mr Miller and Ms Power did and said controversial things in public. Many more people than Mr Turner were able to form and express adverse views by direct observation of this, and did so: they did not need to read or know about Mr Turner’s tweets to tell them what to think.”
The Judge highlighted the fact that Ms Power and Mr Miller did not sue on “imputations contained in the publications that both Claimants are ‘fascist’, and that Mr Miller is a ‘neo-Nazi’.” She noted, however, that “their litigation fundraising page is also still headed ‘targeted, harassed and falsely labelled a fascist’ – none of which features in the claim they actually pursued.” The Court also found that Ms Power and Mr Miller’s evidence “references the serious reputational impact of imputations not made by Mr Turner in the publications complained of at all”, including Mr Miller’s complaint “that a publisher of his work lost his position on the basis that Mr Miller was ‘a potentially dangerous alt-right philosopher/agitator and supporter of conspiracy theory’. Ms Power complained of the effect of being called a neo-Nazi, a transphobe, and a ‘terf’ (‘trans-excluding radical feminist’). […] None of this is in issue in these defamation proceedings and none of it is even relevantly and evidentially attributed to Mr Turner.”
In respect of my counterclaim in harassment, the Judge ruled that she was satisfied that Ms Power and Mr Miller’s course of conduct towards me that began in mid-2018 “could objectively and reasonably be described as an exercise in bullying”. However, she concluded amongst other things that the “whiff of threat and antisemitism which they themselves can fairly be held to have created [was] too occasional” to meet the high legal threshold for a claim in harassment, namely a quasi-criminal level. Mrs Justice Collins Rice observed in their course of conduct “what might fairly be called a casualness, or perhaps (put at its highest) a knowingness or artfulness, around antisemitic tropes.” She found that “it is hard not to conclude that the risk of creating an experience of antisemitism was one which they were especially well placed to understand and which they were not equivalently scrupulous to avoid. This was not a thought experiment. It was a ‘dabbling in the soul’ of a real-life Jewish man who had been subjected to antisemitic outrage on account of an artwork.”
The Judge found “perhaps most insidiously” that Ms Power and Mr Miller’s conduct towards me included “a theme of Mr Turner’s paranoia and solipsism on the subject of antisemitism itself: his declared experiences and diagnoses of antisemitism are said to be false, deluded and malicious. Perhaps one of the oldest and most persistent of all tropes of antisemitism is that antisemitism itself is a figment of the corrupt Jewish imagination, a Jewish conspiracy.”
Over the course of these lengthy proceedings, Ms Power was shown to have been operating an anonymous Twitter account, @gorsedd6, which she used to engage alongside Mr Miller in their aggressive course of bullying behaviour towards me. Ms Power also deleted the majority of the tweets from this account in December 2020, well into proceedings, claiming that they were not relevant to these proceedings. During this time, Mr Miller and Ms Power were also shown to have operated ‘Groyper’ accounts, which the Judge described as being “particularly enjoyed in the New Right milieu.” One tweet that Ms Power directed at me from the ‘Groyper’ account she secretly operated included an image of a man about to be burned at the stake. It also emerged that Ms Power and Mr Miller had been coordinating at the time with Athens Biennale exhibitor Daniel Keller and LD50 gallery artist Deanna Havas, with email chains between them showing that Mr Miller had suggested that the group seek to “defeat” me “psychologically”.
In her ruling, Mrs Justice Collins Rice found that “there may be some objectively discernible undertow of menace in all of this. Mr Miller’s and Ms Power’s course of conduct was certainly aggressive, in register, language and imagery. Mr Turner’s experience had taught him not to make the mistake of assuming that, within the broader New Right milieu, words and deeds, or irony and intent, necessarily belong in entirely discrete spheres of discourse. For their part, Mr Miller and Ms Power advanced from the witness box interpretations and understandings of their speech to distance it from any possible taint of a literal mindset of violence towards Mr Turner. From an objective and contextualised perspective, however, it is not too difficult to see the basis on which Mr Turner concluded he had reason to fear the contrary.” Furthermore, in reference to a police complaint made about Mr Miller’s conduct, the Judge noted that “the police took the matter seriously. They accepted Mr Turner was genuinely fearful of violence.”
The Judge found that where Mr Miller and Ms Power targeted me on Twitter, “the full lexicon of Twitter trolling is objectively recognisable.” This included “crude personal invective” as well as “the arch demands for evidence or proof of both his own history and the opinions he criticises, and faux-naïve insistence that he is constantly mistaken in his understanding of their views. […] There is, in particular, a relentless pursuit of the theme of his mental deficiency or mental illness (in addition to the casual use of ‘retard’) – ‘low IQ’, ‘sociopathic’, ‘paranoid’, ‘deranged’, ‘obsessive’, ‘paranoid schizophrenic’, ‘dangerously mentally ill’ and so on and on”. The Judge found that “this could, on an objective basis, fairly be described as bullying.”
Mrs Justice Collins Rice noted that, in contrast to the manner in which I had expressed my viewpoint “moderately, rationally and on a reasoned basis, with a view to engagement and eliciting answers to questions or challenges […] their response was to attack [me]. They did so persistently.” The Judge added that she “observed a little of the flavour of this [herself] in their conduct of this litigation, in their oral evidence, and in the choices made, presumably on instruction, about the cross-examination of Mr Turner. He responded, and assisted the court, with presence of mind and composure.”
A full copy of the High Court’s Judgment is available here, which I invite you to read.
This Judgment, and the evidence that emerged during the trial process, represents a vindication of my decision to fight this extremely stressful case for over four years, and which has come at huge personal and financial cost. I would like to thank my legal team, Catrin Evans KC, Jonathan Scherbel-Ball, and everyone who has worked on the case at Mishcon de Reya, led by Michael Frost, for their dedicated and heartfelt efforts on what has been a hugely emotive case.
I would also like to thank my friends and family for the unbelievable support they have provided throughout these proceedings. I am especially grateful to those who turned up each day in court to support me during this extraordinarily stressful ordeal, whose presence was felt deeply and gave me strength. I have been immensely touched and will remember these contributions forever.
Update: On 23 November 2023, the High Court ordered that Nina Power and Daniel ‘DC’ Miller pay 80% of my legal costs, both for their libel claim and my counterclaim in harassment—with an initial payment of £250,000 due within 14 days—bringing these proceedings to a close.