UPDATE: Andew Neil’s lawyer, John Reed, a partner at London law firm Russells, told Variety: “I can confirm that Andrew Neil has commenced libel proceedings against Jennifer Arcuri in response to the highly defamatory tweets that she published about him on 6 and 7 December last year. Ms Arcuri has made no attempt to apologise or retract the allegations she made. Mr Neil was and remains extremely distressed by these unprompted, vile and baseless allegations, and looks forward to clearing his name and reputation in court.”
Former GB News anchor Andrew Neil has filed a defamation lawsuit against U.S. businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri in London’s High Court.
The suit, officially filed on Wednesday, is believed to stem from a Twitter conflict between the two in Dec. 2021 when Arcuri called the veteran journalist a “pedo” in a now deleted tweet and suggested he was an acquaintance of pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The conflict reportedly began following an online disagreement about the COVID-19 vaccine, which Arcuri has decried as an “experimental neurotoxin” on social media.
In a widely reported tweet, which has since been deleted, Arcuri tagged Neil’s Twitter handle and accused him of being a “paid for pharma puppet” and “on the pedo elite train” alongside a photograph purporting to show Epstein’s address book with Neil’s name in it.
Neil swiftly responded saying he intended to take legal action against Arcuri for the false accusations. “Please DM your address/contact details so my lawyers can serve legal papers against you for this clear libel and defamation,” he replied to her. “I’ve instructed the papers to be drawn up now. All those tweeting support for and spreading her tweet will also be served.”
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
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) December 6, 2021
Arcuri quoted the tweet, writing above it: “You really are threatened by me @afneil. Thank you for confirming. Now the world sees exactly what you are.”
You really are threatened by me @afneil. 👇
Thank you for confirming. Now the world sees exactly what you are. https://t.co/n8sS27nkfE
— Jennifer Arcuri (@Jennifer_Arcuri) December 6, 2021
Neil and Arcuri are both controversial figures in the U.K.
Neil was, until recently, the chairman and lead anchor of Discovery-backed GB News, which launched in June 2021 as a British Fox News. The network was dogged by rumors of internal conflict, compounded by a number of senior staff leaving their roles at the organization within months of its launch. Neil went on hiatus after presenting just eight episodes and in September confirmed he was leaving the network.
There are rumors he plans to move to Channel 4 to present a weekly politics show.
Arcuri, a California based tech entrepreneur, has claimed she had a four-year affair with Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London. Their relationship became the subject of public interest when it was revealed in 2019 that Arcuri’s company had received public funds from an organization that fell under the Mayor of London’s purview.
Variety has contacted Arcuri and a rep for Neil.