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A defamation battle between campaign group Hope Not Hate and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has been settled, but another row broke out immediately.
Farage confirmed yesterday that the libel battle, over comments he made about Hope Not Hate, an anti-racism campaign group, on a radio show, had been resolved, and he was “perfectly happy” to accept that the group, which had sued him, did not pursue “violent or undemocratic means”.
The group published a piece on its website headlined “HOPE NOT HATE WINS!” But Farage, MEP for South East England, criticised its statement as “disingenuous” and pointed out that he had neither apologised nor paid damages.
Hope not Hate launched its defamation claim, which was backed by crowdfunding, over comments the former UKIP leader had made on LBC Radio in December last year. His remarks came when he was asked about an extremism row on Twitter with Brendan Cox, the husband of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox. Brendan Cox had criticised a tweet from Farage in which the MEP linked Angela Merkel’s policies to the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.
In the settlement, Farage agreed a statement published by the Press Association, saying: “On 20 December 2016, I gave an interview on LBC radio’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast programme, in which I suggested that while Hope Not Hate purports to be peaceful, it in fact pursued violent and undemocratic means to achieve its objectives.
“Having now considered the position further I am happy to acknowledge that Hope Not Hate does not tolerate or pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour. For its part, Hope Not Hate has made clear that if any individuals claiming to be its supporters were to behave in such a way, that would be totally unacceptable.”
Farage also agreed to give an undertaking not to publish any allegation to the effect that Hope Not Hate pretended to be peaceful but in fact pursued violent and/or undemocratic means to achieve its aims and objectives.
Two weeks ago Mr Justice Warby decided that the issue of whether Farage’s comments caused serious harm to Hope Not Hate’s reputation should be tried as a preliminary issue, which would have increased legal costs considerably for both parties.