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25th Feb 2018

Tory MP forced to publicly apologise to Jeremy Corbyn, becomes his most successful tweet of all time

Please retweet

Oli Dugmore

Please retweet

“Comrade Corbyn collaborated with the Commies!” You may have thought after glancing at the papers in Tesco Express last week.

As is so often the case with anything published on the front page of a newspaper these days, there was very little (read: none) truth in the accusations that Jeremy Corbyn relayed information to the Soviets.

Conservative MP Ben Bradley, one time endorser of eugenics to sterilise the poor, made the mistake of parroting the claims.

In a now deleted tweet the Tory asserted that the Labour leader “sold British secrets to communist spies.”

Bradley was threatened with legal action for what he has since admitted to be a “defamatory statement” and tweeted an apology which, within twenty minutes of publication, became his most successful tweet of all time.

At the time of writing it had more than 30,000 retweets.

The Conservative party vice-chairman also agreed to pay Corbyn’s legal costs and make a substantial charitable donation to a food bank in his local constituency, as well as a homelessness charity.

Labour called Bradley’s tweet “libellous” and said he had pledged to never repeat the claims.

A condition of the apology was that Bradley had to ask his followers to retweet it.

It reads: “On 19 February 2018 I made a seriously defamatory statement on my Twitter account, ‘Ben Bradley MP (@bbradleymp)’, about Jeremy Corbyn, alleging he sold British secrets to communist spies. I have since deleted the defamatory tweet. I have agreed to pay an undisclosed substantial sum of money to a charity of his choice, and I will also pay his legal costs.

“I fully accept that my statement was wholly untrue and false. I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he had betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies.

“I am very sorry for publishing this untrue and false statement and I have no hesitation in offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him.”

The apology raises questions about other Conservative MPs who attacked Corbyn on Twitter following the largely discredited claims by a Czech intelligence agent, Ján Sarkocy.

Ben Wallace, the Tory security minister, compared the Labour leader to a double agent who worked as a British spy during the Cold War before defecting to the Soviet Union. He tweeted: “‘Jeremy has been interested in foreign policy issues his entire political career’… yup so was Kim Philby.”

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson accused Corbyn of betraying his country. “That he met foreign spies is a betrayal of this country,” Williamson said. “He cannot be trusted.”

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: “We are pleased Ben Bradley has admitted what he said was entirely untrue and apologised, and that charities in Mansfield will benefit.

“Following the botched smear campaign against Jeremy, this case shows we are not going to let dangerous lies go unchallenged.”

For more laughter, read @hrtbp’s SOAL column on the whole embarrassing affair.