The Daily Telegraph has published a full apology to Michael Mates MP in relation to false allegations published in July 2004. The newspaper also to joined in the making of a Statement in Open Court.
Statement in Open Court
Michael Mates and Telegraph Group Limited
Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord, I appear on behalf of the Claimant, Michael Mates, Member of Parliament for East Hampshire. My friend appears on behalf of the Defendant, Telegraph Group Limited, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph and telegraph.co.uk website.
On 26 July 2004 the Defendant published an article under the heading “Howard gets tough on ‘bedblocking’ MPs”. The article was also published on the Defendant’s web site. In the article, the Defendant claimed that the Claimant was “underperforming” and “not pulling his weight” as an MP to such an extent that Michael Howard and David Maclean were placing pressure on him to retire.
These allegations against the Claimant were wholly untrue and should never have been published, as the Defendant now recognises.
The Claimant is an extremely active Member of Parliament both in Parliament and in his constituency and is more than “pulling his weight”. He is Chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee and the senior opposition member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which involve him in a substantial amount of work and frequently take him away from Parliament. The Claimant also makes other important contributions to Parliament and the Conservative Party. Amongst other roles, he is leader of the Conservative group on the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and was a member of the Butler Commission last year. In his constituency, the Claimant is extremely hard working. Recently his local Conservative Association unanimously re-selected him as their Parliamentary candidate for the forthcoming General Election.
It was also completely false that the Claimant had come under pressure from anyone within the Conservative Party to resign.
The allegations published by the Defendant caused the Claimant considerable distress and embarrassment. The Defendant made no attempt to check its false claims with the Claimant before publishing them. Additionally, although the Claimant immediately complained to the Defendant about the claims, no apology was forthcoming for over 6 months until 7 February 2005.
The Defendant is now here today publicly to apologise to the Claimant for publishing the allegations. It has agreed to publish a report of this statement in the Daily Telegraph and on the telegraph.co.uk website and to pay the Claimant his legal costs. The Defendant has also undertaken not to repeat the allegations complained of or any similar allegations of the Claimant. On this basis, the Claimant is content to let the matter rest.
Solicitor for the Defendants
My Lord, I confirm what my friend has said. The Defendant unreservedly withdraws the allegations in question and sincerely apologises to the Claimant for the distress and embarrassment they caused him.
Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord, it only remains for me to ask for leave for the record to be withdrawn.
International Press Centre
76 Shoe Lane
Solicitors for the Claimant
David Price Solicitors and Advocates
21 Fleet Street
Solicitors for the Defendant
Mr Mates was represented by Alasdair Pepper