Media Legal Defence Initiative



London, United Kingdom

Registered Charity Number:





Media and Digital Rights Legal Advocacy Group


Alinda Vermeer


Total income: £2,092,657

Total expenditure: £1,991,876 1


  1. “Media Legal Defence Initiative.” CharityCommission.Gov.UK. Accessed October 3, 2022.

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Media Legal Defence Initiative (Media Defence) is a media and digital rights legal advocacy group that provides resources and legal aid to journalists and lawyers internationally. Located in London, this group was founded in 2008 with a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. It is also the recipient of funds from grantmaking foundations Adessium, Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, Wellspring, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, as well as the National Endowment for Democracy; the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization); and financial media firm Dow Jones. 1

SLAPP Opposition

Media Defence is part of a coalition of nonprofits calling for an official legal response by the European Union to limit the use of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) lawsuits. According to Media Defence, SLAPPs are usually brought not with the intention to collect damages, but to silence and intimidate journalists or force a withdrawal or public retraction of statements. According to Media Defence CEO Alinda Vermeer in a 2020 interview, these suits are often filed in a country where the legal climate favors the claimant, rather than the country of relevant jurisdiction. In the same interview Vermeer referred to the late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was battling over 40 libel suits at the time of her murder, most of which were brought by Maltese politicians and businessmen but were filed outside the jurisdiction of Malta. 2

Twitter Nigeria Case

Following a decision by Twitter to delete a post by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and suspend his account in June 2021, the Nigerian government banned the use of Twitter in that country, blocking access and threatening to prosecute citizens who violated the ban. Media Defence and Nigerian lawyer Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga provided legal representation in the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to a coalition of civil-rights groups including  the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Paradigm Initiative. Although the Nigerian government lifted the ban in January 2022, the ECOWAS court declared the ban an unlawful violation of human rights in July of that same year. 3

Elena Popa Case

After Romanian caregiver Elena Popa set up a Facebook group for Romanian/Slovak workers in Austria warning them against abusive practices by recruiting companies and employers, she faced a series of defamation lawsuits, and was forced to take the page down. Media Defence provided research and analysis on behalf of Popa’s defense team for three of the defamation suits, one of which she was able to win. 4

Training Resource Hub

Media Defence’s website hosts an online training hub that offers resources for independent journalists. The hub consists of training modules and a searchable database of case law summaries organized by themes such as “hate speech,” “cybercrimes” and “litigating freedom of expression.” 5

In August 2022, Media Defence announced the launch of a peer-to-peer support initiative to provide training to female lawyers in sub-Saharan African countries. The program is expected to run for a year, from October 2022 to October 2023, and will provide up to 24 participants with one-on-one training alongside more experienced lawyers. After completion, the participants will be grafted into the Media Defence network and may receive work opportunities. 6


Alinda Vermeer is CEO of Media Defence, where she formerly worked as pro bono legal counsel and later head of legal activities. Vermeer is also a former legal officer for the London-based digital rights group Privacy International and was a member of the Amsterdam law firm Stibbe. She is a former board member of Clara Wichmann Trial Process Fund, a women’s rights and domestic abuse advocacy group based in Amsterdam. 7

Pádraig Hughes is legal director at Media Defence, as well as an attorney specializing in human rights violations. He is a member of the “Equality” division of the International Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights. 8


  1.  “Our Organization.” Media Defence. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  2.  Proske, Leonard, Samba, Ann. “Alinda Vermeer, CEO Media Defence: ‘SLAPPs Are a Threat to Our Democracies.’” Deutsche Welle. May 8, 2020. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  3.  “ECOWAS Court victory: Twitter Ban in Nigeria Declared Unlawful.” AccessNow. July 14, 2022. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  4. Hughes, Pádraig. “Media Defence: Challenge to SLAPP Cases Against Domestic Carers at ECTHR.” Diversity Chambers. April 8, 2020. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  5. “Training Resource Hub.” Media Defence. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  6.  “Call for Applications…” Media Defence. August 22, 2022. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  7.  [1] “Alinda Vermeer.” Linkedin. Accessed October 3, 2022.
  8. “Pádraig Hughes.” Interights. Accessed October 3, 2022.
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