Second national newspaper settles libel claim brought by barrister

Hewson: Damages paid

A barrister has secured a second retraction and damages from a national newspaper after being wrongly accused of making death threats to a law student and subjecting him to repeated acts of harassment and online bullying.

MailOnline apologised to Barbara Hewson last year in the wake of Mr Justice Nicklin’s preliminary issue ruling on meaning, and it has now been followed by The Times, shortly before the trial of her libel claim was due to start at the beginning of this week.

The articles in 2017 came in the wake of police issuing Ms Hewson with a prevention of harassment letter under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

This followed a complaint from Sarah Phillimore, a family barrister based in Bristol, about comments made by Ms Hewson on social media. The pair have been in a long-running public dispute.

A judicial review brought by Ms Hewson against the police decision failed in March 2018.

The Times article in April 2017, which was then cited the same day in an article on MailOnline, concerned a law student who had apparently expressed support for Ms Phillimore.

In a statement published yesterday, The Times said: “An article published in April 2017 (and until recently online) headed ‘Barrister ‘made death threats’ to student’, reported on a complaint made to the Bar Standards Board against barrister and writer Barbara Hewson, alleging that Ms Hewson or someone acting on her behalf had made death threats and persistent nuisance calls to a law student and sent him pictures of his daughter, his address and details of his ex-partner’s address.

“We also reported that a similar complaint against her had been made to Leicestershire police.

“Neither the Bar Standards Board, nor Leicestershire police pursued the complaints. We accept Ms Hewson’s assurances that the allegations made in the complaint against her were not true and have agreed not to repeat them and to pay damages to her for libel.”

Ms Hewson was represented by London firm Brett Wilson and William Bennett QC of 5RB.

Last December, a Bar disciplinary tribunal suspended Ms Hewson from practice for two years for sending Ms Phillimore a series of “obscene or seriously offensive” tweets, while in March this year the High Court allowed harassment allegations brought by Ms Phillimore against Ms Hewson to go ahead.

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