Ex-footballer Joey Barton apologises to Jeremy Vine and pays £75,000 in damages over defamatory posts

18 June 2024, 13:55 | Updated: 18 June 2024, 14:09

Former footballer Joey Barton has apologised to Jeremy Vine for defaming him on social media and agreed to pay £75,000 in damages.
Former footballer Joey Barton has apologised to Jeremy Vine for defaming him on social media and agreed to pay £75,000 in damages. Picture: Alamy

By Lauren Lewis

Former footballer Joey Barton has apologised to Jeremy Vine for defaming him on social media and agreed to pay £75,000 in damages.

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In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday, Joey Barton said he had agreed to pay the broadcaster damages and his legal costs over defamation and harassment claims.

Mr Vine sued the former footballer over 14 online posts in which he called the TV and Radio presenter a "big bike nonce" and a "pedo defender".

A High Court ruled Mr Barton's comments about the broadcaster in 11 of the posts were defamatory on May 24.

Writing on X on Tuesday, 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 misleading impression of what he was in fact saying.

"I then taunted and abused Mr Vine for bringing a legal complain 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."

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday, Joey Barton said he had agreed to pay the broadcaster damages and his legal costs over defamation and harassment claims.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday, Joey Barton said he had agreed to pay the broadcaster damages and his legal costs over defamation and harassment claims. Picture: Alamy

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Speaking at the ruling last month, Mrs Justice Steyn said: "The strong impression gained by the assertion the claimant is known as 'aka' 'bike nonce', followed immediately by the further assertion that he is known as, again, 'aka' 'pedo defender', is that the term 'nonce' was being used in its primary meaning to allege the claimant has a sexual interest in children.

"While I do not consider that the hypothetical reader, who would read the post quickly and move on, would infer a causative link, ie that the claimant defends paedophiles because he shares the same propensity, the juxtaposition of the words 'nonce' and 'pedo' is striking and would reinforce the impression that the former was used in the sense of 'paedophile'.

"The reader would have understood that the word 'bike' was a meaningless aspect of the accusation, serving only as an indication that this was a label attached to the claimant, who was known as a cyclist, without detracting from the operative word 'nonce'."

Mr Vine's barrister, Gervase de Wilde, told the hearing in London on May 9 that the abuse began following Mr Barton's comments on women involved in football, particularly in the media, from the end of 2023.

Following a social media post where Mr Barton compared female pundits Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward to serial killers Fred and Rose West, Mr Vine questioned the remarks and whether Mr Barton had a brain injury.

This led to Mr Barton launching a "calculated and sustained attack on Mr Vine" in early January this year, Mr de Wilde said.

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Mr Barton published several posts over the following days to his 2.8 million followers and began using "#bikenonce" on X, which led to it trending on the platform, the court was told.

Mr de Wilde 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 the posts contained "vulgar abuse" but did not libel Mr Vine and represented "someone who is posting in the heat of the moment".

Discussing one post published on January 8, which said Mr Vine was "aka bike nonce", Mr McCormick said in written submissions that the term was an "obvious attempt at humorous abuse of Mr Vine".

But discussing another post which included the phrase "bike nonce", Mrs Justice Steyn 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."

Mr Barton's career saw him play for teams including Manchester City, Newcastle United and French side Marseille, before managing English Football League sides Fleetwood Town and Bristol Rovers.

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