James Wilson wins defamation case against Mendelsohn and Cantor in judgment that speaks volumes about methods and attitudes of so-called ‘campaigners against antisemitism’

University lecturer James Wilson has been awarded £30,000 in damages against James Mendelsohn and Edward Cantor for defamatory material published about him during an argument about supposed antisemitism in the Labour party. The false claim, that Mr. Wilson was a ‘freak [who] takes pictures of kids’, put Mr. Wilson and his partner in fear of physical danger, as well as seriously damaging his reputation. The judge had previously rejected an attempt by Mendelsohn and Cantor to quash the lawsuit.

The judgement lays bare that:

  • Mendelsohn and Cantor kept private information and recycled it to the late Dr Pete Newbon, a director of the anti-left group ‘Labour against Antisemitism’ (LAAS), so that he could use it to defame Wilson – the information was untrue and based a) on statements from someone the judge found to have lied about Wilson and b) on false claims about a university disciplinary investigation. Newbon was described by the judge as ‘bullying’
  • that Newbon, who committed suicide in 2022 after a row with his wife and has been lionised by so-called ‘antisemitism campaigners’ despite his awful record as a serial troll repeatedly disciplined by his employers Northumbria University for his appalling social media conduct, had not told her of Wilson’s lawsuit against him for the defamatory posts
  • Mendelsohn and Cantor refused to apologise, mediate or settle, forcing the legal action to proceed to its conclusion
  • a key witness for the defendants said that she had been offered £5,000 by Mendelsohn and Cantor to testify for them (though the judge did not make a finding that her claim was true)
  • the defendants further abused and insulted Wilson in the course of their defence – despite, in the case of Cantor, being warned by the judge not to do so

The defendants, who represented themselves in court apart from the use of a barrister to cross-examine Wilson, wheeled out a number of figures who are well known for their attacks on the left in an attempt to shore up their defence. The judge dismissed them:

  • University lecturer David Hirsh, a prominent, pro-Israel proponent of supposed ‘left antisemitism’, who wrote an unintentionally revealing elegy to Pete Newbon after his suicide. Hirsh was called to bolster the defendants’ claim that Wilson had shown ‘unwarrantedly aggressive and belligerent conduct’. The judge rejected Hirsh’s evidence that Wilson was ‘aggressive, unpredictable, persistent and irrational and found that Wilson’s communications with him over the spreading of a crowdfund for the defendants’ legal costs were ‘not unreasonable’
  • Nathan Comiskey, another advocate of ‘left antisemitism’, claimed that Newbon contacting him about insulting remarks was ‘highly intrusive and upsetting’ and that he had felt ‘harassed and targeted’. The judge ruled that there was nothing unreasonable in Wilson’s communications and that Comiskey’s testimony did nothing to support the defendants’ claims about supposed unwarranted aggression or belligerence
  • Simon Myerson, a founding signatory of LAAS and supporter of Israel, and a part-time judge recently sanctioned for judicial misconduct for abusive social media posts. Myerson was also a vocal supporter of Newbon, trying to blame Jewish author Michael Rosen for Newbon’s suicide, despite a coroner not mentioning Rosen at all in his inquest findings. Mendelsohn and Cantor put forward Wilson’s communications with Myerson, who had shared a post describing Wilson as ‘scum of the earth’, as evidence to support their claim of aggressive behaviour. The judge ruled that it did nothing of the sort
  • Joanne Bell and journalist Adam Cailler – more well-known anti-left activists whose correspondence with Wilson was put forward by the defence as supporting evidence. The judge ruled, “I can find nothing in the emails that is particularly aggressive or that points to conduct of the kind said to demonstrate the pleaded propensity [to aggression].”.

To read the rest of the Skwawkbox post, click here.

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