You see, Jeremy Corbyn has apparently instructed solicitors to act after Mr Bradley posted a tweet alleging that the Labour leader sold British secrets to Communist spies. Owen Jones’s response is exactly right:
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) February 19, 2018
The allegation relates to the ‘fake news’ claim – put out by Tory-supporting newspapers – that Mr Corbyn provided information to a Czech spy during the Cold War era. The claim has been categorically disproved.
Theresa May set up a unit to tackle fake news & for the last 4 days her MPs have been sharing fake news. Theresa May said she will tackle online bullying & again her MPs have been at the centre of some of the most horrid attacks on Corbyn. Here's the proof of the fake news. pic.twitter.com/ge1C2ewyBG
— Dan L (CWU NW Chair) (@Think_Become) February 19, 2018
Let’s just pause for a moment and think about this. Jeremy Corbyn, as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is a member of the Privy Council. As such, he will have been subjected to the highest level of national security vetting possible in the United Kingdom. He’s squeaky clean.
Some people may not see it that way, though:
If the Tories and their media carry on with this tsunami of lies for much longer someone will end up getting hurt. They may as well paint a bloody great target on Jeremy Corbyn's back. It's disgusting and I hope Jeremy's team urgently consider his personal security situation.
— Rachael (@Rachael_Swindon) February 19, 2018
If Rachael is right – and I see no reason to doubt that she is – then Mr Bradley hasn’t just committed libel, which is a civil offence requiring a member of the public to sue the alleged offender; he may have committed criminal libel, which is a libel that may incite others to commit a crime.
It seems this may have been pointed out to Mr Bradley:
— Chris Furlong (@SocialistChris) February 19, 2018
Nah forget the apology let's just sue!
— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) February 19, 2018
The problem is, the damage has already been done. And that means it doesn’t matter what Mr Bradley does now – he remains in a highly actionable position.
His situation has not escaped the social media commentariat:
Ben Bradley is the new laughing stock of British politics.
— aleesha (@a_leesha1) February 19, 2018
If someone had asked me this morning what Tory MP I'd absolutely love to see get sued for chatting absolute guff about Corbyn online – it definitely would've been Ben Bradley
— Matt Turner (@MattTurner4L) February 19, 2018
If you’re wondering why Matt Turner would say something like that, you’ve probably got a short memory. Only last month, we all enjoyed Mr Bradley’s discomfiture at the revelation that, several years ago, he wrote a blog post suggesting that poor people should be forced to have vasectomies, and took to Twitter to claim that water cannon bought by then-London mayor Boris Johnson should be used to play “splat the chav”.
He said he’d been on a journey and had learned his lesson. He hasn’t.
So much for Mr Bradley.
The rest of the Conservative Party would be in the clear, of course, if only Theresa May hadn’t opened her silly mouth in apparent endorsement of her vice-chairman’s claims.
According to the BBC, she was asked at an event in Derby whether she agreed with her defence secretary Gavin Williamson that the file on Mr Corbyn held by the Czech Security Service Archive should now be released so people could make up their own mind about the claims.
We already have assurances that it contains nothing of interest. The Czech authorities aren’t likely to release it now, to a government that is implying their word is not to be trusted.
But Mrs May said: “It is for individual members of Parliament to be accountable for their actions in the past. Where there are allegations of this sort, MPs should be prepared to be open and transparent.”
Theresa May no longer has any credibility on her claim that she wants to clamp down on Fake News. She has just poured a can of petrol over this completely fake story about Jeremy Corbyn. https://t.co/vyCC6kt8cC
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) February 19, 2018
She has also included herself in the defamation. Repetition of a libel is another libel in the eyes of the law.
And that puts Mrs May in a highly actionable position.
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