Jeremy Vine says Joey Barton agreeing to £75,000 in damages not enough to settle defamation claim

Joey Barton arrives in court  (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Joey Barton arrives in court (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Joey Barton has apologised to Jeremy Vine and agreed to pay the broadcaster £75,000 to settle a defamation claim over posts on social media.

The ex-footballer made an apology to the Channel 5 presenter on Twitter/X where he admitted he did not believe Mr Vine had a “sexual interest in children” after labelling him a “big bike nonce” and a “pedo defender”.

But the presenter hit back after the apology and said he would be demanding even more damages from the former Marseille midfielder after he ignored the initial offer to settle.

Jeremy Vine posted on X: “The news of Joey Barton’s apology and commitment to pay damages and costs is not the final outcome of this case.

“After five defamatory tweets, my lawyer offered Barton a chance to settle: pay £75k, plus my costs, and make an apology.

“He ignored that offer and posted more disgusting tweets about me, even publishing my home address to his followers.

-Vine is a well known cycling advocate (PA)
-Vine is a well known cycling advocate (PA)

“When I then took my case to the High Court, a judge ruled that TEN of the tweets I complained of were defamatory.

“Having lost, Barton has returned to the offer we made after tweet 5.

“There has therefore been a parallel action on tweets 6-10 and Barton will pay further damages for these. A number of other steps — including statements made in Court by way of apology — are still to be taken, and Barton has agreed to pay my legal costs of all of the claims.”

Mr Barton faced legal action from the TV and radio presenter over 14 online posts and had been raising funds from supporters to defend his “battle for freedom of speech”.

Mr Vine took the ex-footballer to court for libel and harassment, following a social media exchange over Mr Barton’s criticism of women’s involvement in men’s football.

In an apology post on Twitter/X, Mr Barton said: “Between 8 and 12 January 2024 I published 11 posts which accused Jeremy Vine of having a sexual interest in children, and created a hashtag which made the same allegations, which were viewed millions of times.

“I recognise that this is a very serious allegation. It is untrue. I do not believe that Mr Vine has a sexual interest in children, and I wish to set the record straight.

“I also published posts during the same period in which I referred to Mr Vine having advocated forced vaccination during the Covid 19 pandemic, based upon a video clip of his TV programme.

“I accept that he did not advocate this policy and that the video clip has been edited to give a misleading impression of what he was in fact saying.

“I then taunted and abused Mr Vine for bringing a legal complaint against me. I have agreed not to make the same allegations again about Mr Vine and I apologise to him for the distress he has suffered.

“To resolve his claims against me in defamation and harassment, I have agreed to pay Mr Vine £75,000 in damages and his legal costs.”

A fundraiser set up by the former footballer to help his “battle for freedom of speech” raised just £16,361 of his £100,000.

Mr Barton said the money raised would go to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool after he “decided to settle with JV”.

The former Newcastle, QPR and Manchester City midfielder published several posts to his 2.8 million followers associating Mr Vine with paedophiles including Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris and Jeffrey Epstein.

One post featured a picture of Mr Vine and Harris together with the comment: “Oh Jeremy Vine. Did you, Rolf-aroo and Schofield go out on a tandem bike ride? You big bike nonce ya!”

Barton will pay Vine £75,000 (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
Barton will pay Vine £75,000 (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The following day, Mr Barton retweeted a post featuring a picture of Mr Vine cycling adding his own comment “If you see this fella by a primary school call 999.”

He also began using “#bikenonce” on Twitter/X, which led to it trending on the platform, the court was told.

Gervase de Wilde, representing Mr Vine, said that the posts contained “clear references to [Mr Vine] having a sexual interest in children” and that the word “nonce” had “an irreducible, defamatory meaning”.

William McCormick KC, for Mr Barton, said at the earlier hearing that the posts contained “vulgar abuse” but did not libel Mr Vine, and represented “someone who is posting in the heat of the moment”.

But Ms Justice Steyn ruled that 11 of the posts could defame Mr Vine, saying the word “nonce” was used to allege that Mr Vine “has a sexual interest in children” and that the use of the word “bike” was “a meaningless aspect of the accusation”.

Discussing one post which included the phrase “bike nonce”, the judge said: “In my judgment, the hypothetical ordinary reasonable reader would understand the post as taunting, scorning and ridiculing the claimant for his alleged proclivity.

“The jocular tone might be seen by the ordinary reasonable reader as in bad taste, given the subject matter, but it would not lead them to understand that no allegation of having a sexual interest in children was seriously being made.

“Nor would the reader perceive it as meaningless abuse ‘shouted’ in the heat of the moment, as there is nothing in the post that would give that impression.”