Following an unprecedented legal challenge, Chris Bryant MP retracts false claims first made in Parliament.
A “Statement in Open Court” was read in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court today where Chris Bryant MP confirmed that the “serious allegations” he made against Legatum's co-founder and chairman, Christopher Chandler – originally in a 2018 parliamentary debate - “have subsequently been disproved”.
This statement follows an apology Mr Bryant made in the UK Parliament on the 25th May 2022, and reads as follows:
“My Lord, in this action I appear for the Claimant, Christopher Chandler. Mr Chandler is a businessman and philanthropist. He is co-founder of the Legatum Group, and the Legatum Institute, which is an educational charity.
“On 8 March Mr Bryant posted on his Twitter feed a letter that he sent to the Foreign Secretary, (the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP), following her appearance the previous day before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Mr Bryant wrote to Ms Truss to address an allegation she made against Mr Bryant during the committee session that he had obstructed the progress of sanctions legislation through Parliament.
“In his letter to Ms Truss, Mr Bryant quoted from various speeches he made in Parliament on 1 May 2018 during the debate on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill which included serious allegations against Christopher Chandler. It was not Mr Bryant’s intention to repeat those allegations, which he accepts have subsequently been disproved.
“Mr Chandler is most grateful to Mr Bryant for his acceptance of this fact. At Mr Chandler’s invitation, Mr Bryant has paid £1,000 to the Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine in lieu of damages. Mr Chandler has sought to recover no legal costs from Mr Bryant.
“Since the purpose of these proceedings has been achieved, I now seek my Lord’s leave to withdraw from the record.”
Mr Chandler, commented on today’s events, saying:
“After four long years, we are delighted to be able to put these bizarre and outrageous lies behind us. I’m grateful to Mr Bryant for not opposing this long overdue correction of the public record, as well as for donating to the UN Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine, in place of damages.
“Nevertheless, it is important to realise that if these allegations had not been repeated outside Parliament, there would have been nothing that I could have done to clear my name from these baseless accusations.
“Parliamentary privilege is a crucial and cherished right in a democracy, but in an age of fake news and social media, MPs must have the ability and duty to amend the official record if they subsequently find out that what they have said is false. In this regard, I agree with Mr Bryant who highlighted in Parliament on 25th May that “there is not a formal process for Back-Bench members to amend the record. That exists only for Ministers.
“In addition, I would like to urge the parliamentary authorities to consider introducing a ‘right to reply’ for private individuals named in either House, as is the case in Australia and New Zealand. Otherwise, others will suffer similar harm in the future.”
On the 27th July 2022, Mr Chandler wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, pressing the case for introducing a ‘right to reply’ and ‘right to amend’.