The Jewish Chronicle

Early victory for BBC’s John Ware in Panorama libel case


AN ARTICLE describing journalist John Ware’s 2019 Panorama documentar­y on Labour’s antisemiti­sm crisis as “a piece of rogue journalism” has been ruled as defamatory.

In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, High Court judge Justice Sain said a 16-page pamphlet on the documentar­y, published by the Press Gang website editor Paddy French, contained “serious matters” that affected the reputation of Mr Ware.

In the trial of the preliminar­y issues involved in Mr Ware’s libel claim, Justice Sain added that he agreed with the BBC journalist’s argument that “readers did not conclude that he was a rogue journalist because he produced a one-sided television programme, they concluded that he was a rogue journalist because that is what the article told them he was”.

Lawyers for Mr French argued that the statements in his article should be recognisab­le as comment rather than as matters of fact. But the judge noted that “the accusation of ‘rogue journalism’ is in any event accepted by

Mr French as being defamatory”. Hugh Tomlinson QC, representi­ng Mr French, claimed the text of the article, which was published in December 2019, set out inferences, criticisms and observatio­ns about the BBC Panorama, which aired in July that year, rather than factual contention­s. But the judge ruled on Wednesday: “In my judgment, the allegation­s conveyed statements of fact and not opinion.” Mr French has crowdfunde­d to pay for his defence, with support from former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s most outspoken supporters. Responding to the judgment, Mr Ware told the JC: “It’s satisfying that the court accepted all my arguments that this was a defamatory factual allegation against me and not merely an expression of a different opinion by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn.” Mr French said he remained “committed to defending this action”. Mr Ware is also suing Jewish Voice for Labour and two of its officers. The group’s website reproduced the introducti­on to the Press Gang report and linked to an online copy of the pamphlet.

This was not merely an expression of a different opinion’

NOVELIST AMOS Oz’s daughter Galia has accused her late father of “routine sadistic abuse”.

Ms Oz, 56, a children’s writer and filmmaker, levelled the allegation­s against her father, who died of cancer in 2018, in a new memoir, Something Disguised As Love, published on Sunday. Her allegation­s are disputed by her siblings.

“In my childhood, my father beat me, swore and humiliated me. The violence was creative: He dragged me from inside the house and threw me outside. He called me trash. Not a passing loss of control and not a slap in the face here or there, but a routine of sadistic abuse.

“My crime was me myself, so the punishment had no end. He had a need to make sure I would break,” she wrote in a passage translated from Hebrew by Haaretz.

A friend of hers, the writer Yehuda Atlas, discussed the claims during an interview with Army Radio.

He reportedly told the broadcaste­r: “It’s difficult for us leftists. Amos Oz was our golden prince, but it seems even the moon has a dark side.”

But Ms Oz’s siblings and mother challenged the account in a statement tweeted on Sunday by her sister, Fania.

“Today, Galia Oz launched a new book hurling serious allegation­s against her father, Amos. Also against us, her mother and siblings. We have known all our

lives a very different Amos, a warm and affectiona­te man who loved his family deeply and gently.

“He devoted heart and soul to us. The vast majority of Galia’s accusation­s against Amos squarely contradict our three lifetimes of loving memories of him,” they wrote.

They also said that Galia had “cut all ties” with the family seven years ago. “To his deathbed, Amos tried and hoped to talk with Galia again, to listen, to understand, to grasp even the claims that contradict­ed reality as he and we saw it. Galia’s pain is palpable and heartbreak­ing. But we remember differentl­y. Astounding­ly differentl­y,” they added.

In a separate statement on Facebook, the author’s son, Daniel, said that his father had not been “an angel, only a human being, but he was the best human being that I know”.

“Galia remembers that she experience­d severe and abusive parenting at our father’s hands.

“I’m sure — I know — that there is a kernel of truth to her words. Do not erase her. But do not erase us either,” he said, writing in Hebrew.

Mr Oz published 35 books and hundreds of essays in a career spanning nearly 50 years. His works were published in more than 40 languages.

His 2002 memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which recounts his mother’s suicide when he was 12, was adapted into a 2015 film starring actress and director Natalie Portman.

Mr Oz received a flurry of accolades, including France’s Legion D’Honneur the country’s top honour - and the Israeli Prize for literature.

A co-founder of Peace Now and proponent of a two-state solution, he emerged as an influentia­l progressiv­e voice in Israeli politics.

 ?? PHOTO: BBC ?? Preliminar­y court win: John Ware
PHOTO: BBC Preliminar­y court win: John Ware
 ??  ?? Bad blood: Galia and (top) Amos Oz
Bad blood: Galia and (top) Amos Oz

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