FORMER Eastbourne MP Nigel Waterson’s legal action against his successor Stephen Lloyd was due to get underway in the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday.
Legal teams were gearing up for a five-hour hearing in London as the Gazette went to press after Conservative Mr Waterson brought a claim against the Liberal Democrat who replaced him in the General Election in 2010 and Mr Lloyd’s former election agent Rebecca Carr.
The claim is in relation to what Mr Waterson called a defamatory smear campaign in the Lib Dem’s General election campaign publications.
Mark Elder, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said, “In spite of the fact that Mr Waterson’s expenses claims for a second home in outer London were clearly within the rules, had been given a clean bill of health by an independent investigation and he had done nothing wrong, the Lloyd campaign persistently issued news reports in Liberal Democrat election newspapers that alleged Mr Waterson was an ‘expenses scandal MP’ who had abused the system.”
Mr Elder said Mr Waterson did not seek to challenge the results of the election but “simply wishes to vindicate his reputation with the general public and the people of Eastbourne and show that election smear campaigns can be appropriately censored by the courts”.
He added, “As Mr Waterson made clear at the time, he always intended to pursue this claim whatever the result of the election.
“Following the advice of his legal team, Mr Waterson has issued an application seeking Summary Judgment on the grounds that Mr Lloyd and Ms Carr have no real prospect of succeeding in their defence of ‘honest comment’.”
Mr Waterson was the Member of Parliament for Eastbourne for 18 years and lost his seat in last May’s election to Mr Lloyd, who won with a majority of more than 3,000 votes.
The hearing was due to be heard at Court 14 at the Royal Courts of Justice in front Mr Justice Tudgendhat