Actor Tracy-Ann Oberman pays damages after falsely accusing academic of antisemitism
Actor Tracy-Ann Oberman has paid substantial damages and apologised after falsely accusing an academic of antisemitism.
Oberman, known for her roles in EastEnders and Friday Night Dinner, had claimed that Dr Philip Proudfoot, a Middle East specialist and research fellow at the University of Sussex’s Institute for Development Studies (IDS), implemented a “Jew blocklist” on Twitter.
Proudfoot had in reality used a Twitter Block Chain in an effort to avoid targeted harassment from trolls.
A Block Chain is a programme which automatically blocks users who follow a blocked account.
In a 4 April 2021 tweet which was subsequently deleted, Oberman wrote: “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.”
Proudfoot is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights. In 2020, he founded the Northern Independence Party, a political party fighting for independence for the North of England.
Following Oberman’s tweet, Proudfoot brought a libel claim against the false accusation.
He had in fact used Twitter’s Block Chain after being targeted by annymous harassment accounts because of his views on Palestine.
All Twitter users following the blocked troll account were then automatically blocked, without taking into account religion or ethnicity.
According to the complaint, the false allegation had damaged his reputation, with Oberman’s public prominance – extending to more than 100,000 followers on her verified Twitter profile – exarcertbating the matter.
On Tuesday, Oberman shared an apology on Twitter, which read: “On 4 April 2021 I tweeted that Dr Philip Proudfoot ‘has a Jew blocklist’. The following day Dr Proudfoot explained that this was wrong and that he had used ‘a tool to mass block an account I followed that was involved in targeted trolling, which also blocks followers.’
“He has since assured me that this was an account which he believed was trolling and harassing him and he had not deliberately blocked Jewish accounts.”
She continued: “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. I have therefore deleted my tweet, agreed to pay substantial damages and legal costs.”