Sussex

Nigel Waterson 'expenses scandal' leaflet defamatory

  • 8 December 2011
  • From the section Sussex

An election campaign leaflet which featured a claim about a former East Sussex MP's expenses was defamatory, a High Court judge has ruled.

The pamphlet was produced by Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd and used during the 2010 election campaign.

It described Conservative Nigel Waterson as an "expenses scandal MP".

Mr Waterson, who was Eastbourne MP until 2010 and lost his seat to Mr Lloyd, was cleared of any wrongdoing over his expenses claims.

Defamation proceedings were issued in December 2010 following the use by the Stephen Lloyd campaign of news reports in Liberal Democrat election newspapers that alleged Mr Waterson was an "expenses scandal MP" who had abused the system.

Mr Waterson's legal team said such news reports were used despite the fact that his expenses claims for a second home in outer London "were clearly proper and within the rules".

The High Court ruled on Thursday that damages and costs would be decided at a later date.

Image caption Stephen Lloyd, who won the Eastbourne seat in the 2010 general election, said he planned to appeal

Following the summary judgement, Mr Lloyd said he had made an application for leave to appeal and would continue to "assess his options in the coming days and months".

"This is a highly technical ruling on the word 'scandal' and how people understand it," he said.

Mr Waterson said he was pleased with the court ruling "that I was the victim of damaging and baseless accusations by Mr Lloyd and his agent. It was a clearcut decision".

He said: "I have not sought to challenge the result of the election. We have achieved my specific aims today.

"The world and the people of Eastbourne now know that the Liberal Democrats campaign misled voters.

"Mr Lloyd should now consider his own position. The relationship between an MP and his constituents is one based on trust."

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