At long last, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn realised that the tsunami of potentially seriously defamatory claims about what he didn’t tell the Czech security agencies in the late 1980s would not abate, and called the lawyers in. It was not enough to stem the flow of Fake News pouring from the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, but perhaps someone out there will get the message, and remember what happened last time this happened.
It was back in 1995 that the Murdoch Sunday Times libelled former Labour leader Michael Foot, claiming that he had been a paid Soviet agent. The late and not at all lamented Screws followed up with its own claims. Both papers settled with Foot, the Screws almost immediately, the Sunday Times after giving the impression it would tough it out. The prospect of Rupert Murdoch being summoned to court may have hastened settlement.
No man is of perfect courage
Perhaps someone mentioned this to Tory MP Ben “splat the chavs” Bradley, who made a flagrantly libellous Twitter claim about Jezza and the Eastern Bloc yesterday afternoon. Soon after, Corbyn let it be known that he had instructed lawyers to lean on the terminally clueless MP for Mansfield, and the Tweet was hurriedly deleted.
As Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman effectively repeated the libel when he Tweeted “Corbyn was a paid Communist spy? IF true, this is surely the moment Corbyn will face a challenge from Labour MPs who know that not to act would be electoral suicide. Watch Lady Nugee, Emily Thornberry, busily pretending not to prepare to be ready”, perhaps Jezza’s legal team might want a word with him too.
Also potentially on the legal radar should be Ben Wallace, representing Wyre and Preston North and a junior minister, likening the Labour leader to one of the infamous “Cambridge Four” when he snarked “‘Jeremy has been interested in Foreign Policy issues his entire political career’ - Labour MP Louis Haigh , BBC Daily Politics - yup so was Kim Philby”.
And when the legal eagles have finished with those two specimens of opportunist idiocy, there is the continuing appetite of the Tories’ press pals to consider, with a fresh batch of unsubstantiated claims being pitched as if they were true this morning.
The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph ventured “Corbyn urged to reveal his Stasi file [not easy if he isn’t in possession of it] … May puts Labour leader under pressure to authorise release of East German records”. Did Theresa May even mention the former East Germany? No she didn’t, so that may interest the lawyers twice over.
Over at the Northcliffe House bunker, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre have been similarly adventurous with “As file reveals Czech spy called Labour leader ‘the right man to give information’, PM says it’s … TIME TO BE OPEN, COMRADE CORBYN”. Did she call Jezza “Comrade” or refer to him by name? Nope.
What press insiders really think about the story
And there just had to be another swipe from the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, who have told readers of “JEZ’S ‘COMMIE SUPPLY LINE’”. Once again, they rely on a single discredited source, and the heavy use of quote marks shows some serious hedging to be in progress. But the defamatory intent is all too clear.
Never mind one foolish MP. Forget IPSO. Take the SOBs to the cleaners, and now.