Andrew Bridgen was libelled to a 'devastating extent' High Court is told in legal battle with Matt Hancock

By Ashby Nub News Reporter

12th Jun 2024 | Local History

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Andrew Bridgen (inset): Photos: Dreamstime.com/YouTube
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Andrew Bridgen (inset): Photos: Dreamstime.com/YouTube

Andrew Bridgen was libelled to a "devastating extent" by Matt Hancock when he accused him of antisemitism, the High Court has heard.

Mr Bridgen, who is standing as an Independent candidate at next month's General Election, is suing the former health secretary after Mr Hancock criticised his claim the vaccine rollout was "the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust".

Sky News reports that Mr Hancock described the comment as "disgusting and dangerous" and "antisemitic", which prompted Mr Bridgen to take legal action "to clear his name".

At a hearing on Wednesday, Christopher Newman, representing Mr Bridgen, said the allegation reduced his client in the eyes of the public to a "devastating extent".

He added: "We say that the gravity of what was said, even on the defendant's meaning, was very serious indeed.

"A libel about antisemitism is a particularly serious libel."

"We live in a society where racism is not just undesirable, it is legislated to be illegal - and antisemitism as a very specific form of racism, just as bad as any other form of racism."

Mr Bridgen said earlier on social media that he would be campaigning today rather than being present at the hearing.

He is fighting the North West Leicestershire seat - which includes Coalville - where he was elected as a Conservative before being thrown out over the comments made.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice was asked to decide several preliminary issues in the case, including whether Mr Hancock's post was a statement of fact or opinion.

Mr Hancock had shared a video on January 11, 2023, of him asking Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a question in the House of Commons.

It was posted with the words: "The disgusting and dangerous antisemitic, anti-vax, anti-scientific conspiracy theories spouted by a sitting MP this morning are unacceptable and have absolutely no place in our society."

This came hours after Mr Bridgen shared a link to an article "concerning data about deaths and other adverse reactions linked to Covid vaccines" and stated: "As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust."

While Mr Newman said Mr Hancock's post meant Mr Bridgen "is an antisemite", lawyers for the former health secretary said it meant Mr Bridgen had "disseminated views that were antisemitic in nature".

     

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