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See this video. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BmNyNivlEVo

Two YouTubers disliked piers Corbyn political agenda, so they contacted him to express their bad faith interest in donating financially to the cause. They arranged a meeting which they secretly filmed and then heavily edited and published in which they told him that they were investors in Astrazeneca who felt guilty about their profits from the vaccines and showed and presented him with £10K of real cash under the premise that they were giving it to him. Legally it seems like they had lawfully and irrevocably transferred ownership of that money to Corbyn. They then surreptitiously took it back while he wasn't looking and swapped it with monopoly money.

Firstly it seems as though this is criminal theft as well as civilly speaking unlawful conversion or trover if not worse.

Secondly the covert filming of the encounter seemingly between public grounds and on the property of a private business without Corbyns knowledge or consent would raise serious legal questions.

Finally, their publishing of the heavily edited footage with the explicitly avowed goal of damaging his reputation would raise issues of defamation.

What are the criminal and civil implications of this antic?

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Gift or Contract?

Well, neither.

Since one party had no intention of parting with the money supposedly being offered, this lacks the intent to be a gift and also the intent to create legal relations to be a contract. Further, Mr Corbyn is clear that he can only accept the offer if it is unconditional - he also has no intention of entering into a contract.

The real cash was substituted before it was given to Mr Corbyn so it was never transferred into his possession so questions of theft, conversion, or trover do not arise. Mr Corbyn might have believed he was being given cash but his beliefs are irrelevant. He might even believe that a promise was made to transfer the cash but a promise unsupported by consideration on his part is unenforceable.

Illegal recording

It is not illegal to record a conversation you are part of in the UK and it is not illegal to film places where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

It may be illegal to release an audio recording publically but journalists (a broad category into which these YouTubers fall) can make a defence of public interest. It is certainly arguable that exposing that a vocal, public anti-vaxer is willing to take profits allegedly derived by a vaccine company is in the public interest.

Defamation

Statements that are substantially true cannot be defamatory. Editing can make even truthful statements no longer "substantially true" if their effect is to create a manifestly false impression. For example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8uM0zOBuSw.

However, the version of the video that I have located does not appear to do that.

Notwithstanding, to be defamatory, a statement "caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant." If sued, the defendants could plausibly argue that Mr Corbyn is "defamation proof": that is, he has no reputation which could be substantially harmed by this prank.

Lying

It’s perfectly legal to lie unless there is an intention to cause loss or damage or to obtain a financial reward i.e. fraud. Not an issue here.

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  • Are you just going by the video above where the pranksters claimed they swapped it out before they gave it to him? I can't be sure but seem to recall other reports at the time which I can't now find being that they had swapped it out from inside of his bag. Just say for the sake of argument that they had reached into his bag and taken it back out from there.
    – Joseph P.
    Jun 19 at 8:05
  • At one point they ask him if he would be willing to de emphasize Astra Seneca from his campaigning because of their financial interests in it, which he agrees though states that that would be done anyway. They are keenly intent on recording him stipulating some conditions in order to demonstrate that he is corruptible by cash bribery. Is there not arguably some modicum of consideration there then?
    – Joseph P.
    Jun 19 at 8:08
  • Additionally say for the sake of argument that they presented it to him unambiguously with a seemingly solemn if truly disingenuous letter declaring their intentions to give him something whether money or whatever without any conditions, and then pretend to but don't do it. Are you saying that the declaration is legally meaningless because they had never intended to follow through on it?
    – Joseph P.
    Jun 19 at 8:10
  • Lastly surely there could be damages claimed for the disappointment and distress, getting his hopes up and most concretely of all disingenuously wasting his time?
    – Joseph P.
    Jun 19 at 8:11
  • The definition of theft in such edge cases isn't very obvious. Did Corbyn have possession or control of the money? Even if he did, you can take something if you reasonably believe the other person would let you take it, or you have a legal right to it. It's hard to answer without knowing the precise circumstances, as well as having good knowledge of the law.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 19 at 14:35

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