Collyer Bristow defeats Bob Crow libel claim for Boris

Collyer Bristow partner Rhory Robertson and One Brick Court’s David Glen have successfully defended London mayor Boris Johnson against a libel claim brought by union chief Bob Crow.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Robertson was instructed by Johnson after RMT general secretary Crow claimed the Tory’s ‘Not Ken Again’ election campaign posters and leaflets defamed him.

Crow was represented by Ryan Dunleavy, an assistant at Thompsons, who instructed Jonathan Crystal of Argent Chambers.

The claim was rejected this afternoon at the High Court.

Crow commenced proceedings in May after taking exception to promotional material issued during the mayoral election featuring the headline “Not Ken Again”, which linked him with former London mayor Ken Livingstone.

He filed the claim after Johnson’s high-profile campaign suggested a vote for Labour rival Livingstone would be a return to “council tax rises, broken promises, cronies, scandals, waste, Bob Crow” (11 May 2012).

According to the papers filed, the poster suggested that “Bob Crow would cause grave harm to the interests of Londoners and supported a culture of political immorality”. They were claiming damages and aggravated damages.

The mayor’s defence was around Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, which gives a wide scope for freedom of expression, especially in political campaigns.

Robertson said: “We’re delighted to have got this claim struck out. It was a claim without merit and should never have been brought.”

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “It’s a good day for democracy. This claim, paid for by RMT members, was entirely political in nature and the court has quite rightly thrown it out.”