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Court rules Lib Dem leaflet was defamatory
An election leaflet issued by the MP for Eastbourne was defamatory, a court has ruled.
The pamphlet, produced by Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd and used during his 2010 campaign, claimed sitting Conservative MP Nigel Waterson was “an expenses scandal MP”.
Nigel Waterson, who lost his seat to Mr Lloyd, said the ruling proved the winning Lib Dem campaign had “misled voters”.
He said his successor should “consider his position.”
Mr Waterson was cleared of any wrongdoing over his claims for a second home in outer London.
At yesterday afternoon’s hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled that the Lib Dem leaflet had stated that Mr Waterson had abused the system as a fact, rather than an opinion.
The pamphlet was therefore ruled to be defamatory.
The Lib Dem campaign had circulated mocked-up newspapers just weeks before voters went to the polls.
They were designed to look like real publications and written by a “chief political correspondent”.
After the hearing, Stephen Lloyd MP said: “This is a highly technical ruling on the word ‘scandal’ and how people understand it.
“I have made an application for leave to appeal, and will continue to assess my options in the coming days and months.
“The case is ongoing and in the meantime I remain completely focussed on representing, helping and fighting for the people of Eastbourne and Willingdon, the role I am extremely proud of and the job I was elected to do.”
Nigel Waterson said: “This has been a long and stressful episode for me and my family. I am delighted that the court has decided today that I was the victim of damaging and baseless accusations by Mr Lloyd and his agent. It was a clear-cut decision.
“I have not sought to challenge the result of the election. The world and the people of Eastbourne now know that the Liberal Democrats’ campaign misled voters.
“Mr Lloyd should now consider his own position. The relationship between an MP and his constituents is one based on trust.”
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