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Ex-footballer Joey Barton apologises and pays Jeremy Vine £75,000 over “bike nonce” tweet – but Vine says apology “is not the final outcome of this case”

Vine sued the ex-Newcastle United and Manchester City footballer for libel and harassment in March following a social media exchange which saw Barton also brand Vine a “paedo defender”

Ex-footballer Joey Barton has apologised and agreed to pay broadcaster and cycling advocate Jeremy Vine £75,000 in damages and costs to settle part of a defamation case lodged by the Channel 5 presenter in the wake of a string of social media posts which saw Barton label Vine a “bike nonce” and a “paedo defender”.

However, Vine has since said the apology and commitment to pay damages and costs “is not the final outcome of this case”, and only covers five of Barton’s posts about the broadcaster before, Vine says, he went on to post “more disgusting tweets about me, even publishing my home address to his followers.”

Radio and TV presenter Vine, who uploads videos from his cycle journeys around London and regularly addresses cycling-related topics and debates on his Channel 5 show, filed the defamation claim after former Manchester City and Newcastle United midfielder Barton made 14 posts linking him to Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, and claiming that the broadcaster had advocated for forced vaccination during the Covid-19 pandemic, after the pair clashed on X, formerly Twitter, over the role of women in men’s football.

In the posts, Barton referred to Vine as a “big bike nonce” and a “paedo defender”, prompting the presenter to sue the retired footballer for libel and harassment. In doing so, Vine joined former England footballer and current TV pundit Eni Aluko in taking legal action against Barton for his social media comments, which have ramped up and become increasingly controversial since the 41-year-old’s sacking as manager of League One side Bristol Rovers in October.

> Jeremy Vine sues ex-footballer Joey Barton over "bike nonce" tweet

Complaining about Barton’s criticism of female pundits such as Aluko, Vine wrote X, “Genuinely, is it possible we are dealing with a brain injury here?” Barton replied by saying, “No brain injury here pal. You just don’t like the truth”.

Barton had also previously asked Vine to stop mentioning him during his broadcast work, tweeting on January 8: “Oi, bike nonce! Stop talking about me on your s**tty show.”

The pair have had numerous exchanges on social media, with one seeing Barton claim the broadcaster is “one of the many Government Stooges trying to pressure people to play Russian Roulette with those Covid vaccines”.

In other cycling-related posts, Barton called cyclists “pedalphiles” and asked for “a petition to charge ‘Pedalphiles’ road tax, need to have insurance and an MOT.....to ride in London”. However, it appears that Vine’s subsequent defamation case was not related to Barton’s views on Vine as a cyclist or cycling in general.

Joey Barton (Talk TV)

> Joey Barton's latest unhinged cycling-related social media rant tackles "road tax, insurance and MOT" for cyclists

At a preliminary hearing last month, Mrs Justice Steyn assessed the “natural and ordinary” meanings of the posts and whether they were statements of fact or opinion, before ruling that 10 of Barton’s posts could defame Vine.

And in a statement issued on Tuesday, Barton apologised for the posts, which he has acknowledged were “untrue”.

“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,” Barton, who earned one cap for England as a late substitute in a friendly defeat to Spain in 2007, said in the statement.

“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.”

However, following Barton’s statement, Vine has confirmed that the apology and commitment to pay damages and costs only refers to half of the tweets which were deemed to be defamatory towards the broadcaster.

“The news of Joey Barton’s apology and commitment to pay damages and costs is not the final outcome of this case,” Vine said in a statement.

“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.

“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 five.

“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.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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30 comments

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 4 weeks ago
4 likes

Joey Barton probably wanted to get this legal case out of the way to prepare himself for the next one. He's a bit of a thug and his next case involves assault.

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ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
5 likes

Shouldn't the apology be posted on the profile of whichever social media accounts the slanderous statements were originally made, for a period of say three months? I admit, for someone like Barton, that could exceed the character limit of his profile pretty quickly.

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mitsky | 4 weeks ago
8 likes

As the saying goes:

"Punishable by a fine" means "Legal for the rich".

---

Don't forget, Trump kept getting fined for its comments on social media/to the media during its trial(s).
Didn't stop him.

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lonpfrb replied to mitsky | 4 weeks ago
8 likes
mitsky wrote:

As the saying goes:

Don't forget, Trump kept getting fined for his comments on social media/to the media during his trial(s).
Didn't stop him.

The self described stable genius was able to turn 34 felony indictments into 44 convictions by adding 10 convictions for contempt of court. His sentence hearing in the second week of July will require the judge to consider all these convictions, sentence guidelines, aggrevating factors, the convicts remorse, and the report of the Probation Service.

Each of his 34 felony convictions has a maximum 4 years incarceration.

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mitsky replied to lonpfrb | 4 weeks ago
2 likes

It won't get sent to prison as it would be a logistical nightmare due to the security arrangements required.

The most it will get, in my view, is 6 months house arrest.
Hopefully it won't also be allowed to use social media for that time too, so basically it will have no contact with the outside world aside from anyone visiting.

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Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
2 likes

I do wonder about the precident this sets. People say dumb, hateful shit on the internet all the time, often, but not always, without meaning any harm, do we police and fine all of that? In this case I think its pretty clear that there was malicious intent behind the language but that's not always clear.

There are many comments on Joey Barton's twitter apology post using the same language about him that he used about JV, could those people be sued? Would those suits be successful as this maybe proves that language, on that platform to be defamation? 

I don't know enough about the law to know the answers to any of the above but it is an interesting one.

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Brauchsel replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
12 likes

Part of the preliminary hearing in this case was to establish whether a "reasonable reader" would think Barton was making a specific allegation about Vine: Barton argued that it was simply "vulgar abuse" which nobody would take seriously and therefore isn't actionable. The judge found otherwise. 

He's settled the case because once that had been decided, he basically had no chance of winning unless he could prove his allegations were substantially true. And that seems fair enough: there are few things worse than paedophilia to be accused of, and people shouldn't be able to falsely and knowingly tell millions of people that you're a paedophile without fear of consequence. 

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mdavidford replied to Brauchsel | 1 month ago
10 likes

Brauchsel wrote:

there are few things worse than paedophilia to be accused of

He did call him a cyclist as well.

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Rendel Harris replied to Brauchsel | 1 month ago
4 likes

I wonder if it was actually calling him a paedophile that was regarded as the worst aspect of the case, "bike nonce" is sadly such a common phrase on the Internet that the average reader would understand it's just a nasty insult rather than a substantive allegation; I would've thought that the allegation that Vine had defended/protected Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris would sound far more believable to the uninitiated/stupid ("they're all like that at the BBC"), I'd guess that would be the allegation Vine really wanted to clear his name of in court.

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Brauchsel replied to Rendel Harris | 4 weeks ago
5 likes

The judgement is on BAILII, but from what I remember Barton repeatedly combined "nonce", links to Rolf Harris and some link to Phillip Schofield along with a suggestion that Vine shouldn't be allowed near primary schools.

He tried to argue in court that "nonce" just means "idiot" or similar, but the judge (correctly in my view) ruled that the reasonable reader would know that it's usually used as a suggestion of kiddy-fiddling. The libel Vine sued on was that he has a sexual interest in children, and the repeated use of "nonce" was a big factor in the court's finding that Barton had indeed accused him of that. 

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the little onion replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
3 likes

For libel in the English law system, it isn't enough to just prove that what was said was innacurate, it also has to be harmful. 

 

(I may be recalling a case where a pop star sued regarding somoene publishign a story that they were gay, but it was rejected because although false, they weren't able to prove that it caused harm)

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stevemaiden replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 weeks ago
2 likes

There's no precident set here, it's following already establish laws. The main issue is the person making the claims. If you or I went round the internet all day calling people that from an account with 75 followers no one would believe the statements, you'd be seen as a crank and ignored. However if an influencial famous person with millions of followers does it they are likely to be believed, and people will act on those beliefs. So the issue isn't so much the accusations as the impact it will have on the victim.

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
4 likes

Great result, and hopefully the ex-footballer has learned his lesson.

I still don't understand why someone who used to kick a bag of wind around a field should be given any media space: unless it's because they are versed in the ways of windbags, perhaps.

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mitsky replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
3 likes

I would guess that he "might" have learnt his lesson if losing £75k actually had an impact on his life.
Though I wouldn't bet on either of those things.

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bikeman01 replied to mitsky | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I'd be £75k was covered by his go fund me. Hopefully a lot more will be due to really hurt the pratt.

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mctrials23 replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
8 likes

The most influential people in the world are generally not there due to their intellect or expertise these days. America elected a president entirely because he was famous and not in a good way. 

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Robert Hardy replied to mctrials23 | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Sadly large number of Brits might vote for candidates of a political party which is substantively run by Nigel Farage.

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Samtheeagle replied to Robert Hardy | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I think it is an incorporated company whose majority stakeholder is NF.  Political PArties tend to be unincorporated membership organisations. 

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hawkinspeter replied to Samtheeagle | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Samtheeagle wrote:

I think it is an incorporated company whose majority stakeholder is NF.  Political PArties tend to be unincorporated membership organisations. 

Hold on, does "NF" stand for National Front or Nigel Farage?

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Armchairanarchist replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Yes

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mdavidford | 1 month ago
14 likes

road.cc wrote:

who earned one cap for England as a late substitute in a friendly defeat to Spain

Ouch!

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Rendel Harris replied to mdavidford | 4 weeks ago
2 likes

mdavidford wrote:

road.cc wrote:

who earned one cap for England as a late substitute in a friendly defeat to Spain

Ouch!

Yeah, never feel that easy with that one, the man is a 100% gold-plated cockwomble and I despise everything he says and has done, but when all's said and done he did get an England cap and played fifteen years of top-flight soccerball...there's enough to deride him for without making out he was a rubbish footballer, because his record shows he clearly wasn't.

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Steve K replied to Rendel Harris | 4 weeks ago
5 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

Yeah, never feel that easy with that one, the man is a 100% gold-plated cockwomble and I despise everything he says and has done, but when all's said and done he did get an England cap and played fifteen years of top-flight soccerball...there's enough to deride him for without making out he was a rubbish footballer, because his record shows he clearly wasn't.

Well, he was at top flight clubs in 15 seasons.  In five of them he played fewer than 10 games, including one where he played none and wasn't even given a squad number.

But you are right, of course, that he was not a rubbish footballer.  Equally, he was nowhere near as good as he thought himself.  A lack of self-awareness which is has taken into his later pursuits.

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stevemaiden replied to Rendel Harris | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

If he was as good as you make out, 15 years at the top level, he would have spent more than 10mins in an England shirt in one game.

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Steve K replied to stevemaiden | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

stevemaiden wrote:

If he was as good as you make out, 15 years at the top level, he would have spent more than 10mins in an England shirt in one game.

Not necessarily.  For example (and much that I hate to say big up Man Utd) Steve Bruce played many years in the top flight and captained the (at the time) best team in the country and never played for England.

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muhasib replied to mdavidford | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

In the 79th minute so 11 minutes on the pitch, pub quiz fact is there are 7 shorter England careers than Barton's.

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marmotte27 replied to muhasib | 4 weeks ago
1 like

Maybe a case for the Guardian Knowledge (if it hasn't been answered there already)?

Edit: thought that was a question. Who are they then?

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HoarseMann | 1 month ago
11 likes

Well at least the legal system seems to be working for non life threatening civil matters. Glad JV won.

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OnYerBike replied to HoarseMann | 1 month ago
10 likes

Depends what you mean by "working" - it sounds to me like this was an out-of-court settlement rather than a result delivered by the courts per se. Plus it only "works" for people who can afford to hire lawyers (or occassionally are sufficiently high profile that the lawyers will work pro bono) - defamation cases in particular are notoriously expensive to both bring and defend (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2024/jan/14/as-a-lawyer-i-know-bogus-libel-claims-can-bankrupt-honest-defendants-the-english-courts-must-change).

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HoarseMann replied to OnYerBike | 1 month ago
0 likes

True.

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