Tracy-Ann Oberman: Actress pays politician 'substantial damages' over false antisemitism claim

Tracy-Ann Oberman: Actress pays politician 'substantial damages' over false antisemitism claim
Tracy-Ann Oberman on Tuesday apologised for falsely claiming that Philip Proudfoot of Britain's Northern Independence Party had a 'Jew blocklist'.
2 min read
26 April, 2022
Tracy-Ann Oberman said: 'I made a mistake and appreciate that my comments were hurtful' [David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty-archive]

A politician and researcher has been paid "substantial damages" by British actress Tracy-Ann Oberman over a false allegation of antisemitism.

Oberman, who is known for her previous role in TV soap Eastenders, claimed in a 2021 tweet that Philip Proudfoot, founder of Britain's Northern Independence Party, had a "Jew blocklist".

But the politician, who is also a University of Sussex anthropologist and Middle East specialist, was actually employing a Twitter Block Chain – a means of blocking everyone who follows a particular account – after he had been attacked over his pro-Palestinian views by anonymous trolls.

"When I founded the Northern Independence Party, I expected public scrutiny," Proudfoot remarked.

"Harmful defamation, however, is unacceptable.

"Outside of my political life I am a humanitarian researcher. I've seen the horrors of war in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

"It is for this reason I am a supporter of the struggle for human rights in Palestine. And it is for this reason I am appalled and disgusted by antisemitism, and all forms of prejudice."

Proudfoot added that it is "harmful" to let the "fear of false accusations… prevent us from speaking out against apartheid in Israel".

"Speaking out against injustice is also a fundamental political right," the academic said. "We must defend our rights, defend Palestinians, and never allow defamation to scare away solidarity."

On 4 April last year, Oberman said: "So a man called @PhilipProudfoot of @FreeNorthNow has a Jew blocklist. I’ve been out of the twitter politics loop for a few months but is this Party continuation Corbyn? Seems like it. And will it end up the same way? Seems like it. Good luck all."

On Tuesday, Oberman apologised on Twitter for this false claim. She posted: "I accept that Dr Proudfoot has at no time had a Jew blocklist and apologise for stating otherwise.

"I made a mistake and appreciate that my comments were hurtful," she said, adding that she had "agreed to pay substantial damages and legal costs".

She has also agreed not to repeat her claim.

Proudfoot's solicitor, Zillur Rahman, said: "I hope this case empowers others to continue to make legitimate criticism of Israel’s apartheid and occupation, particularly at a time when the Palestinians are being terrorised once more."