Tice threatens to sue the Conservative Party over MP bribery claims
Richard Tice has hit back against allegations that he offered £400,000 to a Tory MP to defect to Reform UK (previously the Brexit Party). With Reform UK hitting 10 percent in a poll this week as the Tories continue to struggle, there have been suggestions that Mr Tice has been attempting to woo Conservative MPs to defect.
However, the bitterness between the two parties hit a new level in recent weeks with a story briefed to a Sunday newspaper that Mr Tice had offered a £400,000 bribe.
If true, he would have potentially been breaking the law and it is understood that Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been asked by the Tories to investigate.
It is also possible that the matter could be taken up legally by the authorities.
Mr Tice has instructed his lawyers at Wedlake Bell to write to the Conservatives to investigate who briefed the story and make a retraction.
If this does not happen, he has threatened to sue for libel.
The letter addressed to Chief Whip Simon Hart states: “Our clients have no issue with robust competition between political parties and fully accept that politics can be an unforgiving arena in which rival parties frequently attack each others’ policies and personalities.
“However, there is a clear difference between what are everyday, legitimate political activities and the scurrilous spreading of unfounded stories which allege illegality and wrongdoing.
“Such activities are calculated to cause serious harm to the reputations of individuals associated with Reform UK, including its Leader, Mr Tice.”
It goes on: “Natural justice requires that when allegations are made against someone, they are entitled to know who has made the allegation and what exactly is being alleged against them.
“This is especially so where it appears that defamatory statements and malicious falsehoods have been published with the intention of causing damage and alleging that criminal offences are involved.”
The letter also made clear that Mr Tice is prepared to initiate legal proceedings on allegations that “amount to malicious falsehoods against him.”
It added: “For its part, Reform UK needs to know what is being alleged against it and what, if anything, has been provided to the Speaker.
“It may be that the Speaker may himself initiate a process which might subsequently fall within the definition of being ‘proceedings in Parliament’ which cannot be questioned in any Court proceedings.
“However, that is not the case with the allegations made outside of the House of Commons and the statements made to and published in the press.”
The Conservative Party has declined to respond.
However, a Conservative Party source said: “An MP approached party officials and told them he had been offered money to defect. This was in turn flagged to the Chief Whip.”
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