The Gemini Project have re-launched their research into how civil litigation is being used by abusers to silence their victims who speak out and disclose the abuse they have survived.
Since The Gemini Project first launched this research, the occurrence of civil litigation cases of this nature has increased, particularly following the widely publicised Amber Heard v Johnny Depp case.
The Gemini Project are looking to gather as much data as possible to gain a wider understanding of the prevalence of this practice. Responses to the survey will provide statistics of the current scale of the practice and anonymised testimonials will detail the impacts of proceedings. These will be used to compile a dossier of case studies to further campaigning efforts in this area.
Often described as ‘gagging orders’, the purpose of these proceedings is to silence, intimidate, discredit and further disempower survivors. The most common proceedings we see are brought by men accused of sexual and/ or domestic violence launching vexatious cases in relation to misuse of private information, harassment, libel and press injunctions.
The Gemini Project wishes to end the practice of abusers weaponising civil litigation against survivors as we believe it is a continuation of abuse as well as an additional trauma. By their nature these cases misuse the courts and are brought against survivors to silence and revictimise them both emotionally and financially.
It is our belief that the free speech and expression of survivors sharing their experiences for a variety of reasons combined with the public interest in the press reporting on such cases outweighs the private interests and right of an abuser to reputation. We also believe that law should not be used as a weapon to silence.The Gemini Project, 2023.
The Gemini Project is a non-profit organisation working to end sexual violence through advocacy, campaigns and education. The organisation was co-founded by identical twin sisters Lucy and Verity Nevitt in August 2018.
Their wider campaign to end the use of these civil lawsuits, often described as ‘gagging orders’ bought by abusers to silence survivors came from their own High Court battle against their abuser, anonymised as CWD. CWD took legal action against them after they were encouraged by Metropolitan Police Officers to speak out and disclose their experiences online in 2019 after the case against their abuser was dropped by Police.
CWD launched legal proceedings against the twins citing misuse of private information and harassment. This later expanded to defamation. Lucy and Verity were able to crowdfund over £12,000 to secure legal representation on a conditional fee agreement basis with solicitors at Hodge Jones and Allen and barristers Catrin Evans KC and Emma Foubister of Matrix Chambers.
CWD attempted to: silence them from speaking about the sexual abuse they had survived and the following police investigation; shut down their CrowdJustice page; shut down their work at The Gemini Project; sent cease and desist letters to Members of Parliament who supported the twins and applied for a press injunction which the Press Association fought and won. The twins settled the case with CWD in June 2020 agreeing not to name their perpetrator when discussing their case.
“SLAPPs are a continuation of abuse to disempower, discredit and silence survivors. Courts should not allow abusers to misuse them in this way. It is painful to know so many others have experienced this and do so alone.
This research will help us understand the scale of this practice, whilst gathering anonymised testimonies that will be used to compile a dossier of case studies to illustrate how much harm these cases cause.
This will help us to continue our campaigning on this issue. Our end goal is to influence government to change law which will end this practice for good.”Verity Nevitt, Co-founder of The Gemini Project
Details of their case can be found here:
Press coverage of their case can be seen here:
- BBC News report: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-56174118
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