Nigel Farage has taken a second swipe at a leading anti-racism charity, after it claimed “victory” on Tuesday in a legal battle that began as a Twitter spat with the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox.
Hope not Hate (HnH) said it was “delighted” the former Ukip leader had withdrawn claims that it pursued “violent and undemocratic means” after the group used funds from 16,000 supporters to file a libel suit against him.
Farage said he was “very surprised” by HnH’s announcement, calling it “some victory”, adding that its statement on the win was “thoroughly disingenuous”.
He acknowledged that the case, launched in December after he made comments on LBC, was now resolved, and said he now accepted HnH did not do as he had claimed - but then took aim at its supporters:
“But the fact is that a number of individuals claiming to support them in the past behaved violently and sought to intimidate and disrupt lawful political meetings,” Farage wrote on Twitter.
He added that the charity should never have launched the court action, “which has been a complete waste of their donors’ money”, before making clear just how small a win he believed they had achieved.
“Despite them demanding £100,000 in damages I have not paid them a penny; they demanded an apology that I have not given; and they demanded an undertaking to the Court which they did not get. In addition, they have been forced to pay me thousands in costs, on top of the tens of thousands they will have had to pay their own legal fees”.
HnH disputed they had paid Farage’s costs, telling HuffPost UK they had simply covered their own legal fees.
“As the settlement was reached before a full hearing, we have agreed to pay our own costs, ” a spokesperson said.
“On costs, Farage (in his statement) is referring to a half-day hearing on a technicality, which was split 50/50 on costs between both sides (for that one hearing).
“In a desperate attempt to save face, Nigel Farage is creating a smokescreen about costs. We agreed to pay our own. According to Farage’s own lawyers, this will mean he has to pay in access of £100,000. On every account this is a huge victory for HOPE not hate.”
Nick Lowles, chief executive of HnH added: “He’s picking at straws and trying to find any crumb of comfort; this is not a victory for him, it’s a humiliation.”
The group filed a claim against Farage after he refused to retract a comment he made about HnH on the Nick Ferrari At Breakfast programme following the December 2016 terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.
His comment was in relation to an earlier tweet that Brendon Cox had responded to.
Farage had tweeted: “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy”.
Cox responded by accusing Farage of “blaming politicians for the actions of extremists? That’s a slippery slope Nigel”.
Farage was then quizzed about Cox’s tweet and responded by saying: “Yes, well of course he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like Hope not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually pursue violent and undemocratic means.”
HnH said Farage’s comments were picked up by mainstream media and it later received “a barrage of messages on social media accusing it of extremism, fascism and violence”.
Lowles said he was “delighted with this victory” and used it to issue a warning against anyone trying to “smear us”.
“The case was about the truth and about Hope not Hate saying no to Nigel Farage’s attempts to smear us,” he said on Tuesday.
“For too long right-wing politicians have got away with smearing and abusing their opponents. We drew a line in the sand and ‘no more’.
“We are an avowedly peaceful organisation and Farage’s false claims were deeply damaging to the vital work we do bringing communities together across cultural and religious divides.”
Lowles said it would not hesitate to challenge anyone trying to pursue a “false news agenda” against it, warning: “We won’t hesitate to take further action to protect our reputation. We also hope this case sends a wider signal to right-wing politicians that smearing people will no longer be accepted.”