Newly re-elected London Mayor Boris Johnson has instructed Collyer Bristow to defend a libel claim relating to his election campaign.
Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT Union, has filed a defamation claim after taking exception to Johnson’s poster and leaflet campaign ‘Not Ken Again’.
The high-profile campaign suggested that a vote for Labour rival Ken Livingstone would be a return to “council tax rises, broken promises, cronies, scandals, waste, Bob Crow”.
According to papers filed by Crow’s solicitor, Thompsons associate Ryan Dunleavy, the poster suggests that “Bob Crow would cause grave harm to the interests of Londoners and supported a culture of political immorality”.
Johnson has instructed Collyer Bristow libel partner Rhory Robertson and One Brick Court barrister David Glen.
They will argue against that interpretation of meaning and are likely to lean on Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, which gives a wide scope for freedom of expression, especially in political campaigns.
Robertson, who recently successfully acted for cricketer Chris Cairns in the first-ever Twitter libel claim (26 March 2012), said: “We think the claim has no merit and anticipate applying to strike it out before too long.”
Crow will be represented by Jonathan Crystal of Argent Chambers, who has advised a number of high-profile sports and media names such as cricketer Brian Lara, F1 racer Jenson Button, boxer Amir Khan, and jockey Frankie Dettori.
They are claiming damages and aggravated damages.
A spokesman for the mayor said: “Boris has instructed his solicitors that he intends to robustly defend this baseless claim.”