Defamation

Defend Sally Bercow

This is a cross post from Index on Censorship

Sally Bercow, political commentator and wife of Commons speaker John Bercow MP has been threatened with libel action by Sir Andrew Green of  think tank MigrationWatch, Index on Censorhip has learned.

Bercow received a letter from Sir Andrew’s solicitors on 17 September, demanding an apology and legal costs for comments made on an 18 August Sky news newspaper round-up slot.

Commenting on a Daily Express story migration and youth unemployment, Bercow said the article grossly oversimplified the migration debate, and that such oversimplification was “dangerous propaganda”. She claimed that arguments linking immigration to unemployment had been used by fascists such as Adolf  Hitler and British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley. The Express article had quoted figures from a MigrationWatch study.

Bercow did not mention Sir Andrew, and made just a single reference to MigrationWatch in the allegedly libellous comment.

Sir Andrew has previously received apologies from publications including the Independent newspaper.

Index understands that Mrs Bercow is willing to go to court to defend herself against any libel proceedings, and sees this case as proof of the need for reform of English defamation laws.

Mrs Bercow unsuccessfully stood for election to Westminster council in the 2010 election.

Joanne Cash, a leading libel lawyer and Conservative party activist in Westminster, commented: “Political debate is essential to a healthy democracy.”

This seems an attempt to stifle such debate, which is no one’s interest.”

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