Analysis comment

Twitter suspends – no reason given – account of Labour activist who won ‘unheard-of’ court victory against anti-Labour celebrities

Attempt to sue Jane Heybroek ended with claimants paying her legal costs

The latest in Twitter’s long line of Pavlovian suspensions of left accounts because of campaigns of vexatious complaints appears to have continued with the removal of the account of Jane Heybroek, a barrister and left-wing activist.

Ms Heybroek’s account was suspended – without any explanation or reason – leading to followers being unable to access her Twitter feed:

The account has now been reinstated after outraged tweets and emails from her supporters – also without any reason or apology from Twitter.

Ms Heybroek is a prominent left-winger who recently won a huge court victory against two TV personalities, who had attempted to sue her for sharing a tweet by a Jewish commentator but ended up making an almost unprecedented offer in order to extricate themselves from the case. After the win, she issued a statement:

I am Jane Heybroek, a barrister specialising in immigration work. I was the subject of discourse on Twitter, and reports in the mainstream media, earlier this year, as a result of a libel claim being brought against me by the television presenter Rachel Riley and the actress Tracy Ann Oberman.

I am now able to report that the claim against me has been withdrawn and that Ms Riley and Ms Oberman have agreed to make contributions towards my legal costs. I wish to thank everyone who has helped me in the last 18 months; it will not be forgotten.

Ms Riley and Ms Oberman are not personally known to me. Their claim saw them seeking damages and costs in respect of my re-tweet of a tweet by the blogger Shaun Lawson, which contained a link to a blog article he had written about them in January 2019.

Mr Lawson’s article, which concerned the celebrities’ alleged behaviour towards a teenage Labour supporter on Twitter in January 2019, had been re-tweeted/shared by hundreds of people. Some of those people were threatened with legal action like me; others were not.

Ultimately, despite press reports which suggested as many as 70 people might face legal action, I was the only person who was sued. This was despite the fact that I had deleted my re-tweet before I had even received Letters of Claim. I did not even know how long my re-tweet had been live for. Neither, it seems, did Ms Riley or Ms Oberman.

There was no evidence, that I am aware of, to suggest that anyone had read the blog article as a result of clicking the link in my re-tweet. There were also various other ways in which the claim against me could have been (and would have been, had it proceeded) defended.

Ms Riley and Ms Oberman were being represented, from the very outset, on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, and had ‘after the event insurance’. This meant that there was almost no risk to them in bringing the claim. Many people would have felt forced to settle for reasons of pragmatism. Whilst I am in a more fortunate position than most, after having spent almost £30,000 by a very early stage, it was clear to me that I would have no prospect of funding my defence to trial without help. I therefore launched a fundraiser on the website CrowdJustice.com, and was overwhelmed by the response which I received.

Due to the support of a great many people, I was able to continue to retain leading defamation lawyers, and properly contest the case.

I am making this statement for the benefit of those who have supported me emotionally and financially, and to address one other issue.

Ms Riley and Ms Oberman’s vocal stance against antisemitism (and perceived antisemitism) has been widely documented, as has their involvement in other legal cases. This claim, however, did not actually involve any allegations of antisemitism against me or indeed Mr Lawson.

I understand that Mr Lawson is himself Jewish and that his grandmother was a holocaust survivor. For my part, I abhor all forms of racism. Unfortunately, as a result of the litigation, I was subject of a number of nasty comments from a small minority of people who simply presumed to know what the case was about and what the outcome would be. They were wrong on both counts.

Finally, as I have said throughout to those who have supported me, I ask people, for their own sakes, not to discuss the content of Mr Lawson’s article, nor to comment on Ms Riley or Ms Oberman on social media more generally.

Notwithstanding the fact that I am a lawyer by profession, this has been a long, and at times exhausting experience, and I would not wish anyone to find themselves on the receiving end of legal action.

In recent months, Twitter has been suspending a string of left accounts, including multiple suspensions of the account of Kerry-Anne Mendoza, the editor of left-wing publication The Canary, and that of the Jewish author and former African National Congress MP Andrew Feinstein, after false complaints against them that they had shared others’ private information. At least one of the celebrities involved in the Heybroek case posted a self-congratulatory tweet about the part she felt she had played in the Mendoza suspension.

The social media company’s press office said that Mendoza’s account had been suspended ‘mistakenly’, but Twitter has now stopped responding to the SKWAWKBOX’s enquiries about its habit.

Upon the restoration of her account, Heybroek tweeted:

The latest suspension has prompted demands for Twitter to correct its complaints process, rather than take knee-jerk actions against the targets of vexatious campaigns:

The company badly needs to get its act together.

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55 comments

    1. This case is a good example of the ‘wrongness’ of deplatforming which some on the (alleged) left like to impose on people they don’t agree with.

      1. Lundiel don’t be so crass. It’s not about deplatforming people you don’t like. I’ve no regard for Zionists but I wouldn’t agree with them being silenced. It’s about not giving a voice to those who preach hate and violence against others.

      2. You and people like you have caused this mess. You’ve been used by the establishment and the bulk of censorship and psyops are against the left, not a few right wing Nazies.

      3. Lundiel, you are part of that tiny left group, if indeed you are even on the left and not just an imposter, which goes around shouting “i’m more left than you” It’s juvenile, grow up.

      4. I haven’t ‘shouted’ anything. I haven’t written anything ‘childish’….you attacked me. You have the problem.

      5. Lundiel, you have just illustrated one of your problems, you see every criticism as an ‘attack’, particularly from anyone who opposes your Brexstremism, which explains your often intemperate language.

      6. You haven’t provided any criticism, you haven’t debated anything, you’ve called me crass, childish, juvenile and a left imposter… Listen to yourself!

      7. Ah, poor Lundiel feeling victimised, another symptom of self pity. No criticism? see my 6.30 comment!

      8. If you can’t see the link between deplatforming and closing down social media accounts there’s no hope for you. Zionists, right wingers and Starmer supporters are going back through Twitter/Facebook accounts hoping to find retweets they can complain about to have people banned. The premise is those people have been promoting antisemitism (hate)… it’s the direct result of identity politics and deplatforming. People like Starmer who describe themselves as ‘left’ are in reality authoritarian liberals who would justify their authoritarianism and censorship by saying “It’s about not giving a voice to those who preach hate and violence against others.”
        You are that person.

      9. Once again jackanory’s self-hatred is manifesting itself as making baseless accusations and blaming everyone else for his part in enhancing the zionist influence within the labour party.

        Like wee Steve h with his: “I don’t have to tell you what stammers plans are because you’re ignorant” attitude, jackanory refuses to accept his own stupidity and pigheaded stubbornness alienated the electorate as a whole at the last election, and his continuing whining, buck-passing and labelling and only further alienates them.

    2. Lundiel, it’s not the first time you have made no sense whatsoever. Arguments in life are very rarely black and white as you like to make out, context is important and relevant. Absolutely it is wrong to close down discussion or opinions just because you disagree with them, but please give me a reason why someone who by their utterances shows themselves to be unhinged should be given a public platform to incite violence? Your ‘logic’ would allow another Hitler to have a platform.

      You are continuing this circular argument because without thinking you made a silly comment and are now digging yourself into a deeper and deeper hole trying and get out of it.

      1. You can’t defeat ideas by banning them. If someone incites violence, they can be dealt with under existing law. You are promoting those things you claim to be against (censorship) just as you claim to be against neoliberalism but are a rabid remain supporter which is rank hippocracy. It’s you whose arguments are illogical, impossible even. You are a sad angry little man.

      2. I’m reminded how people like you dealt with Eurosceptic arguments for 40 years. You shut them down, ignored them, poured scorn upon anyone who disagreed with you and called them all ‘little Englanders’, as you so often call me. It was your arrogance and refusal to debate that defeated you (middle class liberal authoritarians) and took us out of Europe.

      3. Lundiel, “If someone incites violence, they can be dealt with under existing law.”

        Your stupidity and that of the other Brexit fanatic, Toffee the foul mouthed troll, is frankly dangerous!

        Where is the law that dealt with Hitler murdering millions of Jews, Romanies, trade unionists and others? Where is the law that dealt with the deaths during the storming of the Capitol? Where is the law that dealt with the bomber who murdered those children at the Ariana Grande concert or the dozens of atrocities which have been committed because of incitement? Those despicable incidents didn’t occur by accident, they occurred because those who carried them out were incited to do it by others with hateful motives and ideas. I’ve repeatedly said to you but which you chose to ignore, that action to prevent the deranged from preaching hate is not an attack on free speech, it is a responsibility.

        You I’m afraid have the Boris Johnson mentality, ‘let’s see how many die before we act’. I have a feeling that the victims and their families won’t thank you.

  1. Seems to be only left wing accounts that get suspended “accidentally”…Hmmm.

    ¡Venceremos!

  2. In my opinion there is only one way to deal with the suspension of Left accounts – an organised boycott of Twitter. Hit them where it hurts – in their pocket

  3. Twitter can never be part of the answer because it is a big part of the problem. Suspending Trump doesn’t fool anybody, besides it makes them look decidedly arrogant and undemocratic. Below the radar Twitter has been operating against feminists who don’t buy the trans agenda, Palestinians, anti-zionists, numerous members of Venezuela’s government and 170,000 Chinese accounts who beg to differ with Trump’s attempt to create a colour revolution in Hong Kong.

    Personally I was attacked on Twitter by a gang of hasbara trolls, including two we will call Silver Ghost and Lao Tzu (crossword solvers will understand to whom I refer).

    Not only did they accuse me of being a Jeremy Corbyn supporting antisemite, they copied their tweets to the Metropolitan Police and to the local police force where I live in France. This was about 2-3 years ago at the frenzied height of the campaign to “get Corbyn.” Given that I have heard nothing further from either force, I presume their allegations were treated with the contempt that they deserved. Of course, I will never know whether they could be regurgitated as evidence that may be used against me at a later date until that later date arrives.

    If I had any money at all (well in excess of 250K and a house in my wife’s name), I would have called a lawyer and sued the bastards – and that is the secret of their success, scaring people into retractions with the backing of solicitors like ML (anti-communist tendency).

    All the best to Jane Hoebroek.

  4. In response to Smartboy and others, the day will soon come that socialists will be muted if we don’t do something pronto to create alternative platforms to Twitter etc. Orwell could detect a dystopian threat but he was such a middle class bellend he couldn’t see where it was going to come from. Gotfam City is where it comes from (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon).

    1. “Such a middle class bellend” seems a bit harsh for someone who lived as the poorest lived to write ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ – which I preferred to both of his ‘required reading’ books.
      Oceania clearly implied a warning to both US and UK, and Big Brother to the intrusion of the state into our lives through technology.
      Before 1950.
      Wassamatter – not prescient enough for you? 😉

      1. I like London’s The Iron Heel. Written without a safety net.

      2. I remember The Iron Heel annoyed me – all those pretend historical footnotes, writing in the first person as Everhard’s widow (iirc).
        Don’t think I even finished it but I’m sure I dragged myself through more of it than I did the ‘classic’ of that other Jack, the scandalously over-rated Kerouac, who just came to mind for no reason whatever.

      3. Orwell’s stunt was not so different from Matthew Paris, who as a Tory MP lived in the west end of Newcastle on benefits for a few of weeks to prove he could survive! Some of the locals felt sorry for him and took him round food and beer – but he never mentioned that when he wrote it up afterwards. Orwell was a public school, middle class scion of the British colonial administration, a talented writer who wrote a few good books but spoilt it all by reverting to form at the end of his life and handing lists of people he suspected of being homosexuals and fellow-travellers to the security services. Shame really.

      4. “Spoilt it all” – like I said, a bit harsh.
        Your opinion is that his life’s work is diminished and that he should forever be labelled as an enemy of the people for expressing his opinions about some other people.
        You’re entitled to express your opinion – wasn’t he entitled to express his?
        I’ve read of no harm coming to any of the people on the list.
        As mere character sketches his opinions presumably could have caused little harm to anyone anyway.
        I’ve read something about the FO at that time actively seeking out people to lobby/propagandise for Britain – if he described people unfavourably might they perhaps have become less likely to be aggressively recruited by the FO?
        Just a thought, and one for which I’ve seen no evidence.
        On the other hand, I’ve seen no evidence proving evil intent either.

    2. Larebisgalloise…You are spot on,but I am afraid that the day that socialists will be muted as already arrived.I am banned from all the US Washington based news outlets owned by the Gannet corporation when I commented in the Bolton news,which also banned me automatically from other outlets in Britain and abroad including the Brighton argus.That was 3years ago and still banned I presume for comment on the AS scam and Corbyn witchunt.I wonder if our lawyer friend is a member of the Labour party,and if she is she may find it is not over especially if she’s on the firing line by the new Israeli black ops specialist they have just recruited for his technical ability and specialist operations in the Israeli defence force.Still no need to worry white flag has given us the “All Clear” on Labour party suspensions…!

  5. Twitter doesn’t like the left. They suspended my account permanently for using Boris Johnson’s full name: Boris (cunt) Johnson. I appealed but to no avail, just receiving repeated automated replies. Ten months on I decided to appeal again. They said they were reviewing my case and would let me know the outcome asap. That was over a month ago. I’ve reminded them now four times. Nothing.

    1. Twitter seems to enable Paedophiles and racists to network.
      One night I saw penetrate sex with a child on Twitter, I reported it.
      The person still has their account.

  6. Riley & Oberman, you say? Wonderful. I might even be able to enjoy Countdown again after this! 😂

      1. Tim, I deleted my account.
        I got bored with people, thinking that tweeting means they are doing something.
        Owen Jones and Fabricant did.
        He didn’t like me talking about his wig, it seems.

  7. Fuck the Labour Party, and voting.
    The 2019 “election” proves that the ruling classes will NEVER allow a progressive government to be elected.EVER.
    The Labour Party is dead.
    Move on, and stop worshipping captain apology. He bends over for the BOD as required.
    He has form for throwing comrades under buses. Wadsworth, and Williamson come to mind.
    This is war!, but the left thinks that spouting on Twitter is activism.
    It is not.
    Also, why are comments closed on the latest article.

    1. Why do you refer to Williamson and Wadsworth – ie why do they ‘come to mind’ – given that Starmer wasn’t leader at the time?

      And HOW would you know that the left regard posting comments on Twitter as ‘activism’ or ‘rebellion’? You DON’T of course, and it’s complete B/S, but you never miss an opportunity to try and discredit the left, do you!

      And given that you talk in terms of NOT being of the left yourself – as you so often DO – you give the game away every time you do so. Yep, you’re a fucking shill (more than likely one of the secondary personas of one of the paid every-day shills on here, who between them have posted literally hundreds and hundreds of posts concocted and designed to discredit and rubbish the left, both members and MPs – and Jeremy Corbyn in particular – during the course of the past eighteen months or so).

      A black propagandist fascist shill, as ALL fucking shills ARE!!

      1. You, as usual, are talking bollocks.
        You don’t know me.
        Furthermore, you have NO idea of my politics.
        I am the far left that is talked about all the time.
        Also, The left do think they make a difference, spouting on Twitter.
        But virtually none of them came down t London for Assange.
        Now piss off, you sad pathetic individual.
        Go and play on a motorway.

      2. “A black propagandist fascist shill, as ALL fucking shills ARE!!”
        Wow!! You really have a problem, with reality, don’t you.
        Have you thought of seeing your GP for some anti-psychotic meds?

    2. Frank…I suspect the lawyers are on the prowl and nobody was supposed to know about the employment of a Israeli black ops defence force operator for the Labour party.,but needs must like everyone else whos the wrong type of socialist steve walker will be on a hit list of the knight who hates the Labour party and all it used to stand for.

  8. The left, seem to think that spouting on Twitter is rebellion, or some kind of activism.
    It is not.
    It is people babbling in an echo chamber, which is why I deleted my account.

    1. Like the fascist shill he is – what with Repetition being a black propagandist technique – ‘different frank’ repeats his smear/slur of the left AGAIN just three minutes after initially doing so, albeit with a slight variation!

      1. Please get help.
        You are in need of medical attention.
        I am not right wing.
        But you are a sad wanker.
        . when Daniel Fooks speaks in the same terms.
        ” The left take a knife to a gun fight”
        Is he a far right shill too?
        You have zero arguments, and you need to get a grip.

      2. Allan

        If repetition is a black propagandist technique, what does that make you, with your repetition of “fascist shill” twice in 10 minutes?

        Do have a lie down!

  9. Allan Howard, the intellectual homunculus, who seems to be off his meds.
    One must not ever criticise the Corbyn.
    I hope he retires, and puts you out of your misery.
    Maybe you could be a Scientologist.

  10. On her Twitter there’s a link to an electronic intifada piece about some media whore Israeli ‘spy’. Not Shai Masot, another one – Assaf Kaplan.
    They seem to love seeing their selfies on social media, these Israeli spies.
    Got his profile on Linkedin an’everything – must be looking for a new spying job.
    Alumnus of the Paris Hilton school of spy-modelling I understand.
    Scary as.

  11. David ….I suspect you mean the former black ops Israeli military intelligence operative that the leader has employed arnt you?.IT really is the end for the working-class Labour party when the conservative Jew running the Labour party is effectively employed to run the witchunt.. Glad I left the party suspecting that a AS scam smear could clip my wings but it looks has if the virus has done that with the help of the neo liberal thought police running western governments.

  12. As for that other article about the ex-israeli spy…I always thought one of the main tenets of espionage was that you remained incognito?

    What next ffs? Celebrity spies have got bakeoff factor on ice?

  13. labrebisgalloise wrote that we should “create alternative platforms to Twitter etc.”
    The SKWAWKBOX has ‘Telegraph’ as an emergency alternative platform to WordPress, but it shows only 147 members – as opposed to many thousands here on WordPress I understand.
    My point is that as far as spreading the word goes, bigger is better and biggest is best.
    If a platform immune to control or censorship by our enemies became more popular than the MSM, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube we’d be in clover – but I don’t know of any way to engineer such popularity into a new platform and I imagine plenty of far smarter people than me have tried and failed.
    Surely we’d all accept that such a thing could only be random – a fluke?

    Does socialism – do socialists – even have the right to ask the poor to wait for something that becomes less and less likely as the power of money grows year by year?

    The right own ALL the propaganda big guns so our choices would seem to be…
    either we build bigger than theirs,
    or we take theirs away from them,
    or we spike their guns.

    I only have one idea on how to spike their guns remotely and legally.
    Nobody has yet offered an alternative idea and nobody has claimed mine wouldn’t work – much less offered a reasoned explanation of why “LIE TO THE PEOPLE, GO TO JAIL” wouldn’t work.

    I’m open to reason – offer me a reasoned argument and I’ll shut up about it.

  14. Interesting news that Starmer’s office has employed a former Israeli intelligence officer to manage social media (psyops) and the former head of the EHRC says the organisation is hopelessly undermined by pressure to conform to government agenda.

  15. Just to say, that Jane Heybroek, and this site followed me on Twitter.

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