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Student suing papers for libel
A STUDENT is trying to sue two newspapers who accused him of being a riot ringleader.
University of Sussex postgraduate student Luke Cooper claims his reputation was “badly trashed” when a picture of him was published on the front page of the Evening Standard and also in the Daily Mail, following the anti- education cuts demonstrations in November 2010 which turned into a riot outside the Conservative Party’s headquarters.
In a rare High Court libel jury action, William McCormick QC, representing Mr Cooper, said that he had been “grossly libelled” by the Evening Standard.
He said an accompanying picture of Mr Cooper at a social event a couple of years earlier gave the impression of a man “smiling joyously at the havoc wreaked”.
A subsequent Daily Mail story used the same photo and portrayed Mr Cooper as one of the “hard core” who organised the riot at the Conservative Party’s headquarters.
Mr McCormick said that, after the coverage, Mr Cooper received attacking emails from people who sought him out on the internet, and faced the stress of the launch of disciplinary proceedings at the university which came to nothing.
Mr McCormick said: “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.”
Mr Cooper told the court he attended the demonstration partly as an activist for Revolution the socialist youth organisation he was a member of and partly to support a demonstration in which he believed very strongly.
He said he was handing out a Revolution fanzine at the back of the crowd and was not that aware of what was going on, although he understood that some Revolution members were in the first wave to enter Millbank and who hung a large banner from its roof.
He denied approaching an Evening Standard journalist and telling him he could speak on behalf of the group. The case against Associated and Evening Standard Ltd, who both deny libel, continues.