George Galloway’s lawyers have been sending people letters demanding money for…retweeting an allegation that Galloway is anti-semitic.
George Galloway has ordered lawyers to issue Twitter users who alleged he was an anti-Semite with letters demanding £5,000 and threatening legal action.
The Bradford West MP has reportedly singled out up to a dozen people, including some who had only re-tweeted other posts and a charity worker with just 75 followers.
The letters, seen by The Times, were issued by Bradford-based Chambers Solicitors. They said the recipient was “required” to pay legal costs of £5,000 plus VAT into a HSBC bank account by 10 March.
Required??? Just like that? In advance of any trial, on their say-so? That sounds awfully…extortion-like.
Ron McKay, a spokesperson for Mr Galloway, confirmed his legal action to The Independent, claiming it was “normal practice” for lawyers to demand costs from a defendant before a the start of a libel case.
“If they don’t pay the money it will go to court,” he added.
Well, given the way the Indy is framing this, I have a suspicion it’s not normal practice at all.
Among those receiving a warning was Hadley Freeman, a Guardian columnist, who wrote a since deleted tweet about the Respect MP on 10 February.
Later that day, Mr Galloway wrote on Twitter: “I have begun legal proceedings against Hadley Freeman of the Guardian on her defamatory comments about me. No one should repeat them.”
The furore inspired the hashtag #libelGalloway to trend as people concocted joke statements to poke fun at his legal action.
A charity worker who re-tweeted a post supporting Ms Freeman, which repeated an anti-Semitism accusation, was among those receiving letters.
“I don’t have £50 let alone £5,000,” the person told The Times.
Another recipient told the newspaper they were “frightened” by the demands sparked by two re-tweets that were not meant as endorsements.
Mr Galloway has also personally threatened critics with legal action on Twitter, writing to one last week: “Most unwise of you to be writing these things. My lawyers will find you.”