UCU boss agrees to pay damages over ‘reckless’ tweets

Jo Grady agrees payout to Paul Embery over tweets last summer

Jo Grady agrees payout to Paul Embery over tweets last summer

University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady will make a payout to a trade union activist and author following a Twitter row that forced a libel hearing.

In a statement on social media today, Grady confirmed she would pay “a sum of money” to former firefighter and Fire Brigades Union activist Paul Embery over the incident, but said she was doing so “without any admission of liability”.

It follows a High Court hearing today, where Judge Jaron Lewis heard from representatives from Brett Wilson LLP on behalf of Embery that he and Grady had agreed on a settlement, which media reports suggest is just under £10,000 in damages and around £12,000 in costs.

That sum will be donated to groups campaigning to protect women’s rights, a statement from Embery on Twitter said.

The case pertains to social media posts in August 2022 when Embery had been on a train journey between London and Norwich and took exception to a group of women reportedly using sexually-explicit profanities which could be heard by his children and other passengers.

According to Embery’s legal team he was met with hostility when he tried to speak to the women, and then filmed the group and tweeted a photo to train operator Greater Anglia to raise the issue.

Tweets published by Grady following the incident included one which said: “Grow up Paul and take a day off bullying women and pretending to be outraged for clicks. It’s pathetic at any age, but especially yours.”

Another continued: “It’s creepy to record young women on the train, share that video, and lie about them on social media for clout.”

Embery’s lawyer claimed the tweets from the “highly influential figure”, which were “liked” thousands of times, had accused the FBU activist of “being a serial harasser of women and lying about the incident in question” and caused him “immeasurable harm”, according to the Perspective Magazine.

“They contained wild and reckless allegations; all entirely without foundation,” the lawyer told the court today.

Embery said that Grady has agreed to pay substantial damages and legal costs after publishing “a serious libel about me,” adding that she had agreed not to repeat the libel.

Embery had launched a crowdfunding campaign to support his legal action, confirming that any unused funds for legal fees will be donated to charity in line with the platform’s rules.

Grady’s statement said that she did not share Embery’s understanding of the tweets, adding “nor do I accept any liability in relation to any potential claim Mr Embery may believe he has against me”.

However, Grady said that she was unable to invest the lengthy amount of time nor could afford the financial commitment involved to fight a defamation case.

“As a result of this I have reluctantly agreed, without any admission of liability, to personally pay a sum of money to Mr Embery which he has agreed to pay to charity. He has agreed in return not to issue any proceedings against me,” she added.

The UCU declined to comment as it was a “private matter”.

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  1. Just Saying

    The UCU declined to comment as it was a private matter. Who did you ask for the comment? The General Secretary ! The UCU’s entire credibility in purporting to represent the interests of all its members surely dictates it has a lot to say about this !