Legal threat to Tories over ‘fake news’ claims about Jeremy Corbyn

Ben Bradley [Image: Getty].

Tory vice-chair Ben Bradley – the man entrusted with revitalising young people’s interest in the Conservative Party by Theresa May in January – just can’t stop himself tweeting like an overgrown child, it seems. And now he might have to pay for it.

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:

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.

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 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:

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:

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.

He’s habitual.

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.”

Just so.

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.

Interesting times…

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8 thoughts on “Legal threat to Tories over ‘fake news’ claims about Jeremy Corbyn

  1. foggy

    “MPs should be prepared to be open and transparent.”……………..Yes Theresa, now show us your tax return !!!

  2. Emily

    I think Corbyn needs to take libel action against the Tory media papers and their MP’s… it seems the Tories are going to far with their hate campaign

  3. Signor tbf

    Criminal libel is NOT inciting someone to commit a crime.

    However, accusing someone of having committed an indictable criminal offence is just that. And what has Jez been accused of? Yes, an indictable criminal offence, so criminal libel it could be & if you remember the last time this was used (Sir James Goldsmith v Private Eye)………………………

    I hope, incidentally, action is also considered against anyone who retweeted that or endorsed it.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Criminal defamatory libel: Libel, the publication of which may lead to a breach of the peace. That’s how it was used by Sir James Goldsmith, by the way.

  4. Bilbo

    Show us your long list of sex pest Tory MPs Theresa, then we might just might believe you’re being open and transparent

Comments are closed.