The New Statesman has learned that the speaker’s wife, Sally Bercow, is being threatened with a defamation action by MigrationWatch UK and its chairman, Sir Andrew Green, following comments she made on Sky News when reviewing the day’s papers with conservative blogger Iain Dale.
The threat of libel action stems from Bercow’s remarks last month on reviewing a Daily Express article which said a recent study conducted by MigrationWatch “pointed to a link between migration and youth joblessness that could no longer be ignored or brushed aside”. Bercow claimed that MigrationWatch study’s assertion, as printed in the article, is “grossly simplistic” and the Express story is “exactly what Mosley said in the 30’s and Hitler argued in Germany”.
The lawyers acting for Green and MigrationWatch have accused Bercow of linking MigrationWatch with “fascists and Nazis”, and have requested an apology and an undertaking not to repeat the claims. They are also asking that Bercow pays legal fees incurred by MigrationWatch and Sir Andrew Green.
Bercow has rejected the claim on sevral fronts. The deadline for a reply under pre-litigation conduct rules has expired, leaving open the threat of a libel suit.
MigrationWatch has been contacted for comment.
On the Sky News programme, Bercow referred to MigrationWatch as “right-wing” while Dale countered that they are “quite highly respected”.
Mrs Bercow has retained David Allen Green’s firm, Preiskel & Co LLP. Green assisted in the successful defence of Simon Singh against the claim brought by the British Chiropractic Association earlier this year. Green also assisted with the strike outs of the libel claims brought against Labour bloggers David Osler and Alex Hilton as abuses of process.
Separately, IPPR’s Sarah Mulley used this blog last month to question MigrationWatch’s claims.