MP given grounds to appeal in libel action

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EASTBOURNE MP Stephen Lloyd has been given limited grounds to appeal in the libel action brought against him by his predecessor.

At the back end of last year a High Court judge ruled Mr Lloyd had made defamatory comments about Nigel Waterson in literature distributed to residents in the run up to the 2010 General election, which saw Liberal Democrat Mr Lloyd take the seat for Eastbourne and Willingdon from Conservative Mr Waterson.

But this week Appeal Court Judge Dame Janet Smith sanctioned limited grounds to appeal saying she felt it was arguable that the initial ruling by Judge Tudendhat in December may have been incorrect.

Mr Lloyd said he welcomed the ruling and what he called the “common sense approach” applied by Judge Dame Janet Smith, who said it appeared to her it is arguable the judge was wrong both as to the meaning and as to whether the words complained of were fact not comment.

Permission to appeal was only in respect of those two issues.

Mr Lloyd said, “I will now seek legal advice about the next stage in concluding this process, but my priority remains to continue working flat out for the people of Eastbourne and Willingdon, as I have done from the very beginning.”

Mr Waterson’s legal team said the points in issue would be “vehemently defended”.