Andrew Neil threatens to sue Jennifer Arcuri after tweet about Epstein

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA</span>
Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

Andrew Neil says he has launched legal action against Jennifer Arcuri, the US businesswoman and former lover of Boris Johnson, after she made claims about the veteran journalist’s inclusion in a contact book owned by the deceased paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

In a public spat that started with a disagreement over the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, Arcuri tagged the former BBC presenter in a now-deleted tweet that read: “Citation for @afneil: Not only is he a paid for pharma puppet but here he is on the pedo elite train. Everyone knows what happened on that plane.” Alongside were the hashtags #itsOver and #ticktock, a picture of Neil arm in arm with a woman, and a screengrab from Epstein’s address book purportedly showing Neil’s name.

Neil wrote in response: “I have clicked to follow you. Please DM your address/contact details so my lawyers can serve legal papers against you for this clear libel and defamation. I’ve instructed the papers to be drawn up now. All those tweeting support for and spreading her tweet will also be served.”

To this, Arcuri responded: “You really are threatened by me @afneil. Thank you for confirming. Now the world sees exactly what you are.”

Neil, who was chairman of GB News until he resigned this summer, replied to Arcuri again, writing: “I will not engage in a public Twitter spat with you, though every subsequent tweet you make just makes it worse. Please just DM your address to me so we can begin the necessary legal action against you. Thank you.”

Many of the hundreds of individuals in Epstein’s address book insist they never had any contact with the deceased financier, whose former partner Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial in New York on sex trafficking charges. Alongside known Epstein associates such as Prince Andrew are the names and contact details of prominent individuals.

In a series of tweets about Epstein, Neil told another Twitter user he had no connection to the deceased man. “I’ve never even met him, communicated with him, never mind visited any of his properties or been on his planes, cars, buses, helicopters, ponies,” he tweeted. “Now what is it you don’t understand about piss off. And apologise before you do, please, piss off.”

Arcuri, who has increasingly used her online presence to criticise Covid-19 vaccines while continuing to make claims about her affair with Boris Johnson, is now based in the US – which may offer her some protection from the UK’s tougher libel laws.

Last month she shared extracts of her diary with the Observer, detailing her affair with the future prime minister and has also offered to assist with a Greater London assembly investigation into Johnson’s conduct.

In another tweet late on Monday night, Neil wrote that he had taken the action “not just to hold Arcuri, who I’ve never met and have no interest in, to account but, more important, to establish that the twitterati can’t just promulgate evil lies without consequences. If you think anonymity will protect you, you’re in for a big surprise.”

One of the biggest challenges in taking legal action against anonymous Twitter users is finding out their contact details. Under British law, it is possible to ask a court to make a Norwich Pharmacal order – named after the 1970s case that established the principle – and ask sites such as Twitter to hand over any information they may hold on an account, such as the email used to register it and other identifying markers.

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