Chris Bryant Forced to Apologise in Landmark Parliamentary Privilege Case

Chris Bryant has today been forced to apologise for false claims made in Parliament. This is the outcome of an unprecedented legal challenge, which saw Bryant come unstuck over the issue of parliamentary privilege – the right of MPs to speak in the Commons with legal immunity. In 2018, Bryant and three other MPs alleged that businessman Christopher Chandler was suspected of money laundering and being a Russian spy; allegations subsequently investigated and described by the former head of the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command as “totally false” and having “no basis whatsoever”. Just a reminder, Bryant recently won the ‘Civility in Politics award’…

In normal circumstances, Chandler would have just had to let the issue drop, the four MPs being protected from legal proceedings. Unfortunately for Bryant, he made the mistake of repeating the false allegation in a letter to Liz Truss on the 8th March this year, a letter he then tweeted out. Gotcha…

Thanks to this schoolboy error, Bryant is set to appear at the High Court today for a Statement in Open Court, and will say the “serious allegations against Christopher Chandler… have subsequently been disproved”. Chandler says he is “delighted to be able to put these bizarre and outrageous lies behind us”.

Chandler has sought neither costs nor damages and offered to pay Chris Bryant’s legal fees, only requesting a £1,000 donation from Bryant to the UN Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine.

This whole unique case re-opens the campaign by some for parliamentary privilege to be subject to a “right to reply”, as currently exists in Australia and New Zealand, which would allow private individuals named in either the Commons or the Lords to respond to any allegations made against them by an MP or Peer. Ironically Chandler is supporting a separate campaign by Chris Bryant to allow MPs to amend their Hansard entries so they can retrospectively correct factual errors in the official record. Steve Baker is now also on board with this right to reply campaign, saying “our democracy would be healthier for it.”

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Chris Bryant Christopher Chandler Steve Baker
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