The Hon. Piers Portman, the youngest living son of the 9th Viscount Portman and heir to 110 acres of West End real estate, has been found guilty of calling Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Chief Executive “Jewish scum” in a confrontation at a courthouse in 2018.
Mr Portman, 50, was prosecuted after approaching Gideon Falter, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Chief Executive, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 14th June 2018 following the sentencing of Alison Chabloz, a notorious Holocaust denier and antisemite. Campaign Against Antisemitism had brought a private prosecution against Ms Chabloz which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took over, and which ultimately led to a conviction and landmark legal precedent. Mr Falter had testified against Ms Chabloz, who has since been repeatedly sent to prison over her antisemitic statements, including denying the Holocaust and claiming that Holocaust survivors had invented their suffering for financial gain.
Mr Portman followed Mr Falter out of the courtroom and confronted him in the lobby of the court building. He extended his hand to Mr Falter, who refused to shake it because the building was filled with what he told Southwark Crown Court was a “Who’s Who of Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and far-right extremists”. As Mr Portman extended his hand, Mr Falter replied, concerned that Mr Portman might be part of Ms Chabloz’s entourage: “I’m very sorry but I can’t shake your hand because I don’t know who you are.”
At this point, Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Portman became “very enraged”, coming close to Mr Falter and saying: “I’m Piers Portman. I have written to you before. Come after me, you Jewish scum. Come and persecute me. Come and get me.” Mr Portman was then told to leave by security staff at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. When police arrived, Mr Portman had left the area.
Campaign Against Antisemitism then checked our systems for e-mails received from anyone with the name Piers Portman, finding a 1,527-word screed in which Mr Portman denounced his former wife and her divorce lawyer, Baroness Fiona Shackleton each as a “greedy, grasping and lying manipulator of the system that happens to be Jewish.” He accused his former wife of “playing the Talmud inspired ‘Tyrant posing as a victim.’” Noting that he had a “Harrow Public School education”, Mr Portman defended the term “Holohoax”, writing that “I fail to see how the fabricated word has anything to do with hating anyone. Surely it is merely an expression created by people that believe they have been lied to,” and questioning how the terms “Jew” and “Jewboy” could be antisemitic.
He concluded his e-mail by taunting Campaign Against Antisemitism to “Come and pick on me…come and have a do with me…come and perform your charity on me.”
Under cross examination by Crown Prosecutor Notu Hoon, Mr Portman said that he had been attending Ms Chabloz’s case — the only criminal proceedings he said he had attended — in order to “learn more about my own circumstances”, claiming that he was being “persecuted by Jewish tyrants posing as victims”.
Mr Portman claimed that he felt that the conviction in June 2018 of Ms Chabloz was “unfair”. Ms Chabloz, who has been imprisoned over various crimes since, had been convicted on that occasion over songs in which she claimed: “Now Auschwitz, holy temple, is a theme park just for fools, the gassing zone a proven hoax, indoctrination rules.” In another lyric referring to Jews, she sang: “History repeats itself, no limit to our wealth, thanks to your debts we’re bleeding you dry. We control your media, control all your books and TV, with the daily lies we’re feeding.”
At one point during his testimony, His Honour Justice Gregory Perrins had to tell Mr Portman to stop talking about his divorce from his ex-wife as he was breaching a court injunction against doing so.
Mr Portman hired one of the UK’s most expensive criminal barristers, Lewis Powers QC to defend him. Mr Powers at one point was called out by the judge over his baseless statements to the jury. The defence case was that Mr Falter and a colleague, Mr Orkin, had in fact “fabricated” the fact that Mr Portman had said “Jewish scum”.
Mr Portman was accompanied throughout the proceedings by conspiracy theorist Matthew Delooze, who appeared to be his only supporter in the public gallery. Mr Delooze is the author of various essays entitled: “The Conspiracy to Rule the World: From 911 to the Illuminati” and “Reasons To Believe We Are Enslaved By The Serpent”.
In a majority verdict, ten out of twelve jurors at Southwark Crown Court today found Mr Portman guilty of causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm and distress. Mr Portman will be sentenced next month.
His Honour Justice Perrins warned: “I am not ruling any sentence out”. The CPS has confirmed that it will be seeking a hate crime sentence uplift.
Campaign Against Antisemitism wishes to thank the Community Security Trust (CST) for once again providing specialist protection officers to keep our personnel safe at court.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “This is a good result for British justice and British Jews. This despicable, unrepentant antisemite instructed his lawyer to tell the court that he is an honourable man being framed by lying Jews. The jury saw straight through Mr Portman, whose hatred of Jews speaks for itself. This verdict reaffirms my belief in the justice system of our country. It shows that even the wealthiest and most privileged cannot escape British justice and will face the consequences of their anti-Jewish racism.”
Sati Dhadda, from the CPS, said: “Antisemitism has no place in our society and will not be tolerated. Piers Portman’s conduct was disgraceful and utterly audacious in a courthouse. No-one should be subjected to such abuse based on their race or religion.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.
Image: Piers Portman, right, leaves Southwark Crown Court with conspiracy theorist Matthew Delooze