Breaking News: Breaking news: Sally Bercow threatened with libel action

Sally Bercow, political commentator and wife of Commons speaker John Bercow MP has been threatened with libel action by Sir Andrew Green of  think tank MigrationWatch, Index on Censorhip has learned.

Bercow received a letter from Sir Andrew’s solicitors on 17 September, demanding an apology and legal costs for comments made on an 18 August Sky news newspaper round-up slot.

Commenting on a Daily Express story migration and youth unemployment, Bercow said the article grossly oversimplified the migration debate, and that such oversimplification was “dangerous propaganda”. She claimed that arguments linking immigration to unemployment had been used by fascists such as Adolf  Hitler and British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley. The Express article had quoted figures from a MigrationWatch study.

Bercow did not mention Sir Andrew, and made just a single reference to MigrationWatch in the allegedly libellous comment.

Sir Andrew has previously received apologies from publications including the Independent newspaper.

Index understands that Mrs Bercow is willing to go to court to defend herself against any libel proceedings, and sees this case as proof of the need for reform of English defamation laws.

Mrs Bercow unsuccessfully stood for election to Westminster council in the 2010 election.

Joanne Cash, a leading libel lawyer and Conservative party activist in Westminster, commented: “Political debate is essential to a healthy democracy.”

This seems an attempt to stifle such debate, which is no one’s interest.”

Simon Singh, the science writer who earlier this year won a case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association, said:

“Being sued for libel is a terrifying prospect, which is why the mere threat of libel is generally enough to shut up a commentator, silence an academic or gag a scientific journal. We hear about the rare cases when someone is prepared to stand up for themselves, but the bigger picture is one of journalists, scientists and many others who are scared into silence by an English libel law that is one-sided.

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  1. Posted 01Oct10 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    What This woman has tried to do is equate Sir Andrew Green with Hitler, and that amounts to a smear. Hitler said something, Sir Andrew says it, ergo Sir Andrew is a Nazi. She does not spell that out, but it is the conclusion that we are invited to draw. It is as idiotic as saying that cutting people is a crime and therefore surgeons are criminals.

    I know why the ideologically pure at heart do tricks like this: it really is about closing down debate with the cry of “racist, racism, who’s a pretty boy then?” Luckily Sir Andrew is made of sterner stuff and is not going to be intimidated by some precious soul like our Sal.

    That said, he should not resort to law, even though I understand his irritation at this gobby little madam.

  2. Posted 01Oct10 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I see Sally is laying herself down, this time in a more noble cause (outrageous libel laws) than she has previously annotated!
    I remember a brief conversation (on the stump) with her diminutive husband John (now Speaker) about the political pillow talk in their household, which he took in surprisingly good humour…

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