A 27 year old university student and Associate Tutor has brought legal action against two newspapers after being accused of being a ringleader in 2010’s education cuts riot.
Luke Cooper, currently studying for a PhD at the University of Sussex, has applied for an injunction and damages from Associated Newspapers and London Standard Ltd, according to The Huffington Post.
William McCormick QC yesterday told a court hearing that an Evening Standard article defamed Cooper by suggesting he was a leader who planned with others in advance to hijack the protest in order to start a riot.
A photograph used in the article was taken at a pub several years before and showed Cooper as if he was “smiling joyously at the havoc wreaked”. This is a common occurrence in newspapers today so it will be interesting to learn the outcome of this case.
A Daily Mail article using the same photograph as the Evening Standard also portrayed Mr Cooper as one of the organisers of the riot at Millbank Tower in November 2010.
McCormick said that Cooper had seen emails containing plans for a protest but was in no way responsible for planning anything, and took no part in property damage or violence.
As Mr Cooper appears to have a burgeoning academic career with the university, his representative is arguing his reputation in the academic community has been damaged.
McCormick told the jury: “It is a myth that libel is just about money, it is not. It is about reputation.
“Luke Cooper’s reputation has effectively been as badly trashed as Millbank Tower on November 10 2010.
“He has been accused of being responsible for a serious piece of public disorder – effectively seeking to use others as his pawns to achieve his political aims – and that is severely damaging to his reputation.”
On cross examination by Adrienne Page QC, who is working for the newspapers, Cooper told the jury he attended partly as an activist for the socialist youth organisation he was a member of – Revolution – and partly to support a cause in which he is a strong believer.
He also said he was handing out a Revolution flyer and wasn’t entirely aware of what was happening. He denied telling the Evening Standard he could speak on behalf of the group.
The case, which is being heard at the High Court in London, is due to last a week and continues today.