Oh dear. When the Sun reported this month that Jeremy Corbyn met with a Czech spy – posing as a diplomat – during the cold war, the story appeared to raise serious questions over the Labour leader’s judgment. A spokesman for the Labour leader admitted he had met a diplomat, but said Corbyn had never knowingly talked to a spy. However, things took a turn for the obscure when former Czech intelligence officer Jan Sarkocy claimed that he met Corbyn and recruited him as an intelligence asset – a claim Labour dismissed as a ‘ridiculous smear’.
This denial wasn’t enough to stop some Tories going on the offensive. Tory vice-chair Ben Bradley tweeted that Corbyn had ‘sold British secrets to communist spies’. The Conservative MP went on to delete the tweet when Corbyn’s legal team got in touch. Now Bradley has had to issue a grovelling apology to Corbyn, agree to make a substantial donation to charities of the Labour Leader’s choosing and meet his legal costs:
‘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.’
A healthy reminder that it’s best to Czech your facts before going in for a full-throttle attack. Mr S hopes the Tories will learn their lesson and manage to refrain from scoring an own goal in future…
Update: And here it is
— Ben Bradley MP (@bbradleymp) February 24, 2018