Last night the Guardian star journalist Carole Cadwalladr admitted to the High Court that she had no evidence at all that Russian money was channelled via Arron Banks to fund the Brexit campaign. She will be paying comrade Bankski £62,000 of costs today but that number will rise. Carole was awarded the Orwell prize by the Foundation of that name in 2018 for her Brexit work. Massive questions must now be asked. But this is 1984, I mean 2020, so will they be asked?
Cadwalladr will continue her case claiming her work was in the public interest. This is a novel defence. How can it be in the public interest to run allegations for which you have zero evidence and which are thus, almost certainly false? I have been in the High Court facing down libel cases and cannot see how this can work.
The first question must be whether Carole has committed fraud. She has crowdfunded her defence, raising £168,000 on the basis that she had the facts to defeat Bankski. She must have known all along that this was not the case. It cannot have been a suprise that last night, a day ahead of going to Court, she suddenly realised that she had zero evidence.
Surely she was thus raising cash from around 5,000 gullible souls on the basis of a false prospectus? Will she now admit to that and return the cash? She should but, almost certainly, will not because, as this case drags on towards an inevitable conclusion, she is going to need every penny she can. Amazingly the crowdfunding page is still up so , having admitted she has no evidence to support her libellous articles she still wants more cash.
Carole presents this case as a battle for a free press. But a free press is not the same as a press which, irresponsibly, makes damaging claims which it cannot support.
The 2018 Orwell award was on the basis of Carole’s work on Brexit. That is to say:
a) That Russia was via Banks was funding the Leave campaign
b) That Cambridge Analytica harvested data which was used to influence the Brexit campaign
In 2020, the British Information Commissioner’s Office closed a three-year inquiry into the company and concluded that Cambridge Analytica was “not involved” in the 2016 Brexit referendum and found no evidence for Russia’s alleged interference during the campaign.
In short all of Cadwalladr’s work for which she won the Orwell Prize has now been shown to be complete fantasy.
Yet the Orwell foundation still trumpets the award on its website even linking to three of Carole’s articles on this matter which, we now know, to be a tissue of lies.
The irony here is just enormous. Once again I urge folks to read the introduction to Animal Farm penned by George but only discovered after his death. Naturally, when kids at school today read Animal Farm they do not read the introduction as the narrative they are told is that Orwell was a capitalism opposing, fighter against fascism and a hero of the left. I am sure that the form of capitalism he witnessed in the Road to Wigan Pier repelled him. It repels me for it was clumbsy and inefficient crony capitalism. Kids are not exposed to that suggestion and are not told that when in Spain to fight the fascists, it was the communists who came, very, close to killing George and his wife.
And they would be horrified by the way that Orwell slates the left and liberals in the Animal Farm introduction. Orwell points out that they rewrite history, that they try to freeze out those who challenge the inconvenient truths which those in the bubble cling to.
The judges who awarded Carole that prize are from the left wing bubble, members of whom simply could not accept the Brexit result and thus had to arrive at an alternative explanation for how we dirty plebs voted to leave. Elinor Goodman made her career at Channel 4 News, Professor Suzanne Franks started her career at the BBC and is now a lefty academic, Rachel Johnson started her career at the Euro loving FT, and though the sister of Boris, stood for the Lib Dems and Change UK as she loves Europe so much, Sir David Bell is another FT man and lives in Islington.
All four of the panellists love the EU so much that Cadwalladr’s now utterly discredited theories as to why the oiks voted the wrong way were music to their ears.
George Orwell warned in that Animal Farm introduction specifically about this sort of thing, about how folks in a rareified liberal left bubble will rewrite history and ignore facts, demionising those who dare to challenge their narrative. Were he alive today he might perhaps suggest that the Foundation show some “diversity” by appointing judges who were right wingers, who did not live in Islington, had not worked at the FT or BBC and thought Brexit was a good thing.
He might also have reminded those running the Foundation about the job Winston Smith did in 1984, working at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history. The Foundation should today admit that it got this wrong, that it offered an award to a fantasist and to rescind that award removing links to articles written by Carole from its website. It should apologise.
But it will not. Carole will keep her award. The links will stay up. For if you continue to push a lie about what happened for long enough the hope is that some people will believe it. Trotsky played no part in the Russian Revolution, there were many famines in British India but none in Stalin’s Ukraine, Arron Bankski channelled Russian cash to the Leave campaign which used Cambridge Analytica to steal the vote, Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.