Payne Hicks Beach

Payne Hicks Beach

25 February 2019

Dr Daniel Poulter MP wins apology, substantial damages and costs from Times Newspapers Limited over The Sunday Times reporting of fellow MP’s false sex claims

Press Release

Dr Daniel Poulter MP wins apology, substantial damages and costs from Times Newspapers limited over The Sunday Times reporting of fellow MP’s false sex claims

Dr Daniel Poulter has won his defamation claim against Times Newspapers Limited after The Sunday Times published false and untrue claims that he had sexually assaulted three women MPs in 2010. The allegations, published in two articles in The Sunday Times on 5 November 2017, were based on claims made to the newspaper by Andrew Bridgen, a fellow Conservative MP.

Today, the High Court heard a representative of Times Newspapers Limited publicly apologise to Dr Poulter as part of the settlement of his claim for defamation, misuse of private information, breach of confidence and inducement to breach confidence.

One of the articles complained of was written by Mr Bridgen for The Sunday Times: the second was written by The Sunday Times Political Deputy Editor, Caroline Wheeler. The articles falsely alleged that Dr Poulter had put his hand up the skirts of three women MPs. Hours before publication of the articles, Mr Bridgen laid his complaints about what he claimed was Dr Poulter’s conduct before the Conservative Party’s Complaints Panel.

The Conservative Party Complaints Panel last year dismissed Mr Bridgen’s complaint, wholly exonerating Dr Poulter. It found that no female MP had ever made any complaint against Dr Poulter and that there was “simply no evidence” to support Mr Bridgen’s claims.

In court today, the Sunday Times publicly apologised to Dr Poulter. The newspaper accepted there was no truth whatsoever in the allegations and that they should not have been published. Times Newspapers Limited has agreed to pay Dr Poulter substantial damages and his legal costs. It has also agreed to remove the articles from its website, delete tweets relating to the articles, and not to republish the same or similar allegations about Dr Poulter again in the future.

Hanna Basha, Dominic Crossley and Nick Grant, of the Privacy and Media Law team at Payne Hicks Beach, represented Dr Poulter in his claim. Hanna, a Partner in the team, read out a statement in court today confirming that the case had settled. After the hearing, Hanna commented: “This has been a long and needless battle against The Sunday Times.  I am pleased that we were able to support Dan in this case, and secure him a full public apology, damages, removal of the allegations, promises not to republish and payment of his legal costs.”

Dominic Crossley, who heads up the Dispute Resolution team at Payne Hicks Beach and who was also part of the team representing Dr Poulter commented: “Our team acted for a number of MPs who were wrongly accused of sexual misconduct in the tide of sexual allegations that hit Westminster in Autumn 2017.   I am pleased that we were able to help prevent a number of false allegations from being published.  In Dan’s case we were able to settle on terms which reflected the very considerable and regrettable wrong he suffered."

Dr Daniel Poulter MP said: “This has been a horrendous episode. These utterly unfounded allegations were published against me at a time of enormous frenzy about the supposed misconduct and wrongdoing of various MPs. Like many of the lurid claims made against numerous MPs at that time, they have been proved to be entirely without foundation - as I always knew them to be.”

“I am grateful to those who supported me in this action including friends and family, the brilliant legal team at Payne Hicks Beach, 5RB, and at Monk PR. I am delighted now to continue to focus on my work as a hard working and dedicated MP for the people of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and as a mental health doctor.”

Click below to read the Statement read out in Court by Hanna Basha, Solicitor to Dr Daniel Poulter MP.

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