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Thursday, July 18, 2024
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HomeCOVID-19Hancock fails to have Bridgen libel case thrown out

Hancock fails to have Bridgen libel case thrown out

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FORMER Health Secretary Matt Hancock could regret his tweet suggesting that fellow MP Andrew Bridgen was anti-Semitic, a comment so wounding it prompted Mr Bridgen to issue libel proceedings.

Mr Hancock has attempted to avoid explaining himself, and inevitably his part in overseeing the dangerous covid vaccination rollout, by applying to have the case cancelled. He claimed that he had not identified Mr Bridgen in his tweet so the case should not go ahead. Last week, a High Court judge threw out his bid to ‘strike out’ the claim.

A quick recap on events: On January 11, 2023, a Twitter account called ZeroHedge said that the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had published figures for covid vaccine injury, provided by the US health watchdog VAERS. ZeroHedge’s subsequent analysis was  originally published by Dr Josh Guetzkow, Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Dr Guetzkow’s graphs showed that major cardiovascular events reported to VAERS had exceeded 70,000 by then, which included nearly 4,000 cases of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), and 2,000 cases each of myocarditis and cardiac failure.

Dr Guetzkow made no association with the Holocaust.

Mr Bridgen discussed his research with various heart specialists then shared a link and a screenshot of the cardiac numbers with the comment: ‘As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.’ He has never named the cardiologist.

Hours later, Mr Hancock, MP for West Suffolk since 2010, wrote on Twitter: ‘Disgusting and dangerous antisemitic, anti-vax, anti-scientific conspiracy theories spouted by a sitting MP this morning are unacceptable and have absolutely no place in our society.’ The tweet has been viewed 4.4million times and resulted in Mr Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, also since 2010, being expelled from the Conservative Party.

Mr Bridgen said: ‘Every person reading the tweet knew it was about me. It was seriously defamatory and untrue and intended to cause grievous harm to my reputation.’ Mr Hancock, who has 435,600 followers, argued that he had not named Mr Bridgen, who has 234,200.

Mr Bridgen added: ‘I welcome the decision of Mrs Justice Steyn to allow this important case to continue to a trial. A strike-out is a high-risk strategy often used by defendants who are worried about the prospect of a trial, and in this case, it failed, thus making clear that there is nothing wrong with the substance of the claim.’

In her 20-page judgment, Mrs Justice Steyn cited numerous cases where defendants had tried and failed to strike out claims because they had not named the plaintiffs. 

The judge decided that Mr Bridgen could establish that the tweet was about him. She wrote: ‘It is highly likely that the claimant would have little difficulty establishing reference innuendo.’ She added that ‘numerous replies on Twitter to the defendant’s (Hancock’s) tweet indicate that the reader was aware that it was about the claimant.’

Many Twitter users recognised it was about Mr Bridgen’s tweet. Underneath Mr Hancock’s tweet, Rebel News reporter Avi Yemeni, @OzraeliAvi, tweeted a screenshot of Mr Bridgen’s tweet with the message: ‘Please point to what exactly is “anti-Semitic” about his statement. And while you’re at it, please show me the lie. Stop pretending to care about our Jewish community in your cheap political point-scoring. Andrew Bridgen is right.’ Account Geordie at Heart @gayle45, also tweeted a screenshot of Mr Bridgen’s tweet, underneath Mr Hancock’s message. She wrote in capitals: ‘WE SEE YOU AS YOU ALL JOIN TOGETHER TO SPOUT THE SAME SCRIPT.’

In a statement after the latest judgment, Mr Bridgen, who himself suffered a serious adverse reaction to a covid jab and needs medication for life, said: ‘The tweet I put out regarding vaccine harms and excess deaths in January 2023 which resulted in my expulsion from the Conservative Party was not just not anti-Semitic, it was true and based on evidence, evidence which gets stronger by the day. I hope the Government will take note of this judgment and suspend the experimental, emergency use mRNA vaccines with immediate effect.’

He is pressing the court for a hearing before the general election so that he can clear his name. He tweeted this last Monday and claimed Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak illegally smeared his character. ‘Update on my libel action. I have written to the court today on the question of the timing of the trial referring to section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983: False statements as to candidates. (1) A person who (a) before or during an election, (b) for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election, makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.

‘This section was enacted by Parliament to make smearing an MP not just unlawful, but illegal, and inconsistent with the holding of a fair election. This protection was enacted for both the benefit of the candidate and the voters, in this case the people of North West Leicestershire. That is because a breach of section 106 denies the 90,000 constituents of North West Leicestershire a fair election.’

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Sally Beck
Sally Beck
Sally Beck is a freelance journalist with 30 years of experience in writing for national newspapers and magazines. She has reported on vaccines since the controversy began with the MMR in 1998.

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