Former MP sues rival over spoof newspaper claims

Former Tory MP Nigel Waterson has launched a legal battle against Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd who won his Eastbourne seat at the general election.

Waterson is demanding damages of up to £150,000 from Lloyd over allegations in two spoof newspapers used as campaign literature, saying the claims were defamatory.

Waterson, who spent seven years as Shadow Pensions Minister and Shadow Minister for Older People, is also suing Lloyd’s agent Rebecca Carr over the claims.

Carr produced and distributed around 40,000 copies of the Sussex Courier and the Eastbourne and Willingdon Express, which looked like real newspapers, according to a High Court writ.

Waterson argues that stories about him, headed ‘Expenses scandal MP faces defeat”, and ‘Courier Comment: It’s time for change’were libellous.

The stories claimed his parliamentary expenses claims had given rise to legitimate outrage, and that he had gravely abused rules for his own financial advantage, he says.

Waterson says the stories also meant he was one of a number of notorious MPs whose claims were unlawful and in breach of Parliamentary rules following the details published in the Daily Telegraph in 2009.

The second story claimed he had shamefully abused rules for his own financial advantage over expenses claims for his home in Kent, and that he would escape his just deserts for this unless the electorate voted for Lloyd, he says.

Waterson was never required to repay any expenses on the grounds they were wrongly claimed following the inquiry by Sir Thomas Legg, and was not criticised by the inquiry, the writ claims.

Waterson says his reputation was gravely damaged, and that he was acutely distressed and embarrassed by the claims, especially knowing that the false allegations were made for electoral advantage.

He is seeking aggravated damages, saying he was not contacted before the stories appeared and that Lloyd and Carr refused to retract or apologise for the claims.

Waterson is also seeking an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the heart of his legal battle.

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