MP to sue Telegraph claiming Albania business deal sting was revenge for regulation and Plebgate

A Tory MP has announced he will sue the Daily Telegraph after the newspaper conducted a sting which revealed the politician asked for a £3,000 per month consultancy fee as part of an Albanian business deal.

Mark Pritchard MP accused the newspaper of having an agenda against him because he previously sued the Telegraph and is in favour of the Government’s plan for press regulation.

Pritchard told Andrew Neill on the BBC’s Sunday Politics that the Telegraph misrepresented him.

The newspaper claimed Pritchard boasted to an undercover reporter posing as a businessman about close connections he had with the Albanian prime minister, the mayor of Tirana as well as the country’s former prime minister.

Following the story on 6 November, Pritchard reported himself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards who said there was not enough evidence to launch an investigation.

The newspaper claimed Pritchard told the undercover reporter that as a member of the all-party group on Albania he had excellent political connections in the country and would be able to use this “network”.

The Telegraph claimed that Pritchard advised the reporter to invest £10 million in a range of hotels in the former communist state.

However, the MP accused the newspaper of misrepresenting him and said he was taking legal action.

He said: "These sort of headlines create suspicion.

"I am suing the Telegraph and I expect an apology, and I don't wish to prejudice legal proceedings here today.

"I am in final legal discussions tomorrow about issuing a writ."

He said: "These claims by the Telegraph are false, they are hurtful and they are malicious.

"The reason I say they are malicious is it's known quite widely that I've sued the Telegraph previously, I've also been quite critical of their coverage of the Plebgate affair, their reporting of that, and also I've been supportive of the cross-party Royal Charter and I know that some people in the media don't like my position on that, and that's why it's malicious.

"The fact is that I believe in a free press, very much so, but that free press also has a responsibility to be fair, to be accurate and to be lawful."

He added: "To be fair, there's some very good journalists at the Telegraph. I know that there's a dispute at senior parts of the Telegraph at the moment about the direction of that paper.

"Do they want to return to being a Catholic, objective newspaper, a quality broadsheet, or do they want to slip into the slippery slope of being an agnostic rag looking for sensationalist headlines?"



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