Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen told to pay Matt Hancock legal fees of £40,000 in libel claim

Andrew Bridgen told to pay Matt Hancock legal fees of £40,000 in libel claim
Andrew Bridgen (l), Matt Hancock (r) Credit: PA Images/PA Wire

Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen has been ordered to pay former Health Secretary Matt Hancock more than £40,000 in legal fees after an early stage of their libel battle.

Mr Bridgen, the MP for the North West of the county, wants to “clear his name” after allegedly being accused of antisemitism in a “malicious” social media post by Mr Hancock, the High Court in London previously heard.

Mr Bridgen is bringing a libel claim against Mr Hancock over a January 2023 tweet that followed Mr Bridgen posting a comment about Covid-19 vaccines.

Following a preliminary hearing in the case earlier this month, Mr Bridgen was ordered to pay £44,300 to the MP for West Suffolk in a court order on Thursday.

Andrew Bridgen has been ordered to pay Matt Hancock’s legal fees Credit: PA

At the previous hearing, a judge was told Mr Bridgen shared a link to an article “concerning data about deaths and other adverse reactions linked to Covid vaccines” on January 11, and stated:

“As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”

Hours later, Mr Hancock wrote on Twitter – now known as X – that “disgusting and dangerous antisemitic, anti-vax, anti-scientific conspiracy theories spouted by a sitting MP this morning are unacceptable and have absolutely no place in our society”.

The court was told Mr Bridgen believes “every person reading the tweet knew it was about me”, that it was “seriously defamatory and untrue” and intended to cause “grievous harm” to his reputation.

Mr Hancock’s lawyers argued the claim against him should be thrown out as it did not have “a realistic prospect of success” and because of the “lack of a properly articulated case”.

In a ruling last week, Mrs Justice Steyn “struck out” certain parts of Mr Bridgen’s case but did not dismiss the whole claim, instead giving the Independent MP a chance to make amendments and “remedy the deficiencies”.

In Thursday’s court order, the judge said:

“Although I have not struck out the particulars of claim, the defendant (Mr Hancock) readily acknowledged that the result of his application might be an order along the lines that I have now made.

“In the circumstances, it is clear that the defendant is the successful party.”

Mrs Justice Steyn also said that if Mr Bridgen does not provide the details of his amended claim or does not successfully make the required application, the libel claim will be thrown out entirely.

After the court order was made public on Thursday, Mr Hancock posted on X:

“Glad the Court has awarded costs against Mr Bridgen at this stage of his absurd libel action, and explicitly stated that I was the successful party – contrary to Bridgen’s ridiculous claims at the time.

“Mr Bridgen should stop wasting the court’s time and drop this case now.”

Later on Thursday evening, Mr Bridgen posted a crowdfunding link on X, saying: “My case against Matt Hancock is on the cusp of exposing his unlawful behaviour.”

He added: “However there is a costs order of £44,300 to pay by next week and the crowd fund is running low. If anyone can help please let me know.”