Andy Wightman awarded over £170K expenses in defamation case

It’s been almost two years since a judge threw out a defamation claim against Andy Wightman and a ludicrous claim for £750,000 damages against him, made by Dr Paul O’Donoghue of Wildcat Haven Enterprises [and Wilder Britain and Lynx UK Trust and various other assorted outfits], who had argued that Andy had published, with malice, defamatory material on his blog, on Twitter and on Facebook in 2015 and 2016 (see here).

Andy’s defence drew widespread support and he successfully crowdfunded approx £170K to help fund legal representation.

Since he won the case, Andy has been waiting to find out whether his legal costs would be paid for by O’Donoghue.

[Andy Wightman with a young golden eagle. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Many of this blog’s readers donated to Andy’s crowdfunder and those who did would have received the following email from Andy yesterday:

Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC vs Wightman Expenses

Dear Donor,

Following my previous email, I am pleased to report that I have been awarded expenses of £170, 973.31. My final legal bill will be short of £200,000. The pursuer [O’Donaghue] has 14 days in which to object to the award.

There is a £110,000 bond of caution lodged in the Court of Session [from the pursuer] which will be released once the settlement is finalised.

With another £25,000-£30,000 of expenses I anticipate refunding £80,000 of the approx. £170,000 raised in crowdfunded donations and so you can anticipate being offered over 45% of your donation. Options to donate to two good causes, to support my ongoing campaigning work, or to claim a refund will be offered. I hope to be in touch again shortly.

Best wishes, Andy

10 thoughts on “Andy Wightman awarded over £170K expenses in defamation case”

  1. Excellent news! Well done, Andy, and to all those generous folk who supported you through this horrific ordeal. Justice prevailed.

  2. Delighted for Andy and that the correct judgement was reached but seriously ‘justice’? How is that when someone faces such horrendous costs effectively incurred by someone else’s action against you which cannot be fully recovered even if they lose?

  3. Well done Andy, a well deserved judgement.

    I was sitting next to you in Dundee last year outside the V & A, I was going to approach you for a chat, however as you were with your family, It was probably best to let you enjoy the day and just said “Hi” on the way past.

    Congratulations.

  4. Paul O’Donoghue, aka Wildcat Haven Team, is supported by Change.org in the ‘Save the Scottish wildcat by protecting Clashindarroch Forest!’ campaign.

    The Change.org campaign emails and page have prevented any public comments for a long time (following the result of the defamation case). I wondered if the two events were connected?

    The ‘Wildcat Haven Team’ are currently raising funds for the Change.org campaign (via crowdjustice.com). Crowdjustice say that they handle ‘compliance issues’ and transfer funds directly to lawyers themselves…

    1. For information:

      In an update dated 15th February 2022, Wildcat Haven announced that four Police Officers, accompanied by a Vet, had ‘seized’ a ‘wild cat’ being ‘rehabilitated for release’ by the Wildcat Haven team. They claim no authority for the seizure was shown by the Officers.

      The ‘wild cat’ in question had been found in a very poor state as a kitten in November 2020, by a ‘couple in the Central Highlands’. The kitten had been examined at the time by a vet, and later handed over to Wildcat Haven by the couple ‘who felt it was not a domestic kitten’.

      The destiny of the seized animal is not known to Wildcat Haven.

      This comes at a time when Wildcat Haven were about to lodge their witness statements for the Public Inquiry in their campaign against the wind farm within Clashindarroch Forest.

      1. More information:

        Wildcat Haven have stated that the (Scottish) ‘wild cat’ being ‘rehabilitated for release’ was being held by them on private land in North Wales, and that it was North Wales Police Officers who seized the animal.

        They are now appealing for (more) funds to ‘help them’ via crowdjustice.com, where they say “We are the only conservation group focussed solely on saving the Scottish wildcat in the wild where it belongs.”

      2. Yet more information as the case develops:

        The Mail Online has covered the incident:

        “The Scottish wildcat is listed as a European protected species. According to Scotland’s nature agency NatureScot, the capture, possession or release of a wildcat outside its native range requires a licence.

        A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said officers are investigating whether an offence under the habitat and species regulations 2017 has been committed.

        She added: ‘North Wales Police are working with partners to ensure the animal is cared for.

        ‘Anyone with information relating to this matter is encouraged to contact police quoting, 21000883036.'”

        The article added:

        “In a bid to get Finlay back (the name given to the (Scottish) ‘wild cat’ by Wildcat Haven), members of the group have set up a petition on Change.org which has reached some 990,000 signatures so far.”

        That is not strictly true. The petition had been set up and attracted 990,000 signature LONG before the ‘wild cat’ was ‘found’ in the central Highlands: it is, in fact, a petition to save the Clashindarroch Forest from a proposed wind farm.

        Wildcat Haven have responded:

        “As you all know, we are going up against the establishment in this windfarm Inquiry and in other elements of our campaign such as stopping the removal of wildcats from the wild for captivity. Therefore, just be aware of any attempts to troll our project. People may even be being paid to do it. As we get closer to the Inquiry, there will be an increasing attempt to try and damage our project. It’s very predictable. We take it as a clear sign that the organisations and people we are challenging are seriously rattled.”

        Hmmm… Has Wildcat Haven breeched the law by removing what they, themselves, claim to be a Scottish Wildcat from the central Highlands to near St Asaph, North Wales?

        1. [Ed: Thanks, Keith. I’m not going to publish your comment though – I understand we may hear more about this in due course from investigating authorities and we should wait for that]

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