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Conor McGregor pictured in June 2022 Leah Farrell/
Artem Lobov

Injunction judgement reserved over allegedly defamatory social media posts by Conor McGregor

Retired MMA fighter Artem Lobov claims that he has been the subject of a barrage of harassing and defamatory posts by McGregor.

THE HIGH COURT has reserved judgement on an application made by retired MMA fighter Artem Lobov for orders requiring Conor McGregor to take down allegedly defamatory social media posts.

The case came before Mr Justice Garrett Simons, who said that he will rule on an application brought by Lobov tomorrow morning.

The application, which is opposed by McGregor, includes an injunction requiring McGregor remove the material in question.

In his action Lobov claims that he has been the subject of a barrage of harassing, intimidating and defamatory posts by McGregor on his Twitter account.  

Lobov claims that the most damaging post about him on McGregor’s Twitter account, @TheNotoriousMMA, is where he is allegedly referred to in a song sung by McGregor as being a “rat”.

The High Court heard that Lobov claims that the defendant’s posts about him arise from other legal proceedings brought by him against McGregor over a purported multi-million Euro whiskey deal.

As a result of the posts, Lobov seeks an order under Section 33 of the 2009 Defamation Act prohibiting McGregor from publishing any further posts similar to those allegedly published by McGregor on Twitter on 26 November.

The 36-year-old Russian national is also seeking an order requiring any other person who has notice of the proceedings to cease and desist from making any similar posts on social media to those he has complained about.

Lobov, who is represented by Andrew Walker SC, instructed by solicitor Dermot McNamara, is further seeking an order requiring the defendant to take down and remove any of the allegedly defamatory posts on Twitter or on any other form of social media.

McGregor was not present in court this morning, but lawyers on his behalf opposed the application.

His counsel Remy Farrell SC, instructed by solicitor Michael Staines, said the matter, including the application for a Section 33 order, was “wholly unsustainable”, raised issues concerning the freedom of speech and expression, and that there were other alternative remedies available to Lobov.

He added that Lobov was not happy that McGregor was being mean in the posts about the plaintiff.

Counsel said that both men are MMA fighters and in that particular sport “trash talk” between rivals is commonplace.
Counsel accepted that McGregor has not yet sworn a statement in reply to the application before the court, but said he is seeking time to do.

Counsel also said that the context of the comments complained is relevant given that parties are involved in a dispute over the sale of a whiskey brand, which remains pending before the courts.

Arising out of that action, counsel said McGregor may well have a defence to the claim of defamation including that his remarks are the truth and can be justified.

Seeking the injunction, Walker said that it is his client’s case that the defendant has no defence to the application and that the orders sought by Lobov should be granted by the court.

His client has not received any response from McGregor regarding his complaints about the posts, nor a sworn statement formally opposing the injunction application.

In his submissions, Walker did not accept that the comments made were merely unfair and upsetting to his client.

The “uncontrolled” posts by McGregor about his client, Walker said, are highly damaging to Lobov and are also in breach of Twitter’s own code of conduct.

Pictures of rats and snakes

In reply to the judge, counsel said the posts were much more serious and damaging to his client compared to the sort of posts one might see on social media when a professional soccer player transfers to a rival club.

Counsel said that there could well be another barrage of statements from McGregor about his client, irrespective of what the court decides in this aspect of the proceedings.  

Lobov has brought proceedings where he claims that on 26 November last several posts were put on McGregor’s account by way of voice note where it is alleged the defendant sings “Artem is ra-at nah nah nah nah, hey, nah nah nah nah hey rat”, repeating it 12 times.

The defendant has also allegedly referred to Lobov as being a rat in other posts, posted between late November and 15 December on his Twitter account, which has 9.7 million followers.

The court also heard that a picture of Lobov superimposed on a packet of raw sausages was also posted on McGregor’s Twitter account.

In other messages posted on the account it is claimed that McGregor calls Lobov a little blouse, a turncoat, an uncooked sausage; makes references to court proceedings the parties are involved in; and challenges the plaintiff to a fight.

Lobov also claims that as part of the campaign against him on Twitter and Instagram, McGregor’s father Tony McGregor also sent him pictures of a rat, a snake and rats.  

Lobov sought an undertaking from McGregor to cease and desist from posting such material. Lobov’s lawyers received no reply from the defendant.

The court heard that the parties have known each other for many years, and had been close friends and sparring partners.

In proceedings that came before the Commercial Court earlier this month, Lobov claims that McGregor who, along with two other shareholders, sold the ‘Proper No 12′ whiskey brand for $600 million (around €584 million) to Proximo Spirits in 2021.

The deal reportedly netted McGregor $130 million (€123 million), making him the highest-earning sportsman in the world last year.

Lobov claims Conor McGregor told him that “remember 5% is yours, no matter what” when the pair discussed the future of a new brand of Irish whiskey backed by McGregor.

Lobov is seeking enactment of an oral agreement he says the two men made when they met in the SBG gym, Naas Road, Dublin, in September 2017.

The court heard that Lobov was offered €1 million by McGregor, but had refused the offer.

McGregor denies Lobov’s claim and says that in one message sent by Lobov he stated that he did not want anything from the deal.

However, Lobov failed to get his case admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court list due to a delay in bringing the case which now must go through the normal High Court list.

Comments are closed for legal reasons

Aodhan O Faolain