Norfolk MP planning to sue Sunday Times over story linking him to Russian lobbying campaign
PUBLISHED: 20:34 30 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 01 July 2019
A Norfolk MP is planning to take legal action against a national newspaper over a story linking him to a Russian lobbying campaign.
North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said The Sunday Times included major inaccuracies in a report in its paper on Sunday, June 30.
The story states MI5 launched an investigation into a Russian lobbying campaign to infiltrate British politics which received advice and support from Sir Henry.
But he said the news report had serious inaccuracies which did not tell the full story and that he will sue the paper for libel.
Sir Henry said: "They were told clearly by the Home Office press office that the [security] minister Ben Wallace asked MI5 to investigate fabricated emails suggesting he was supporting the [Russian lobbying] campaign. That was the sole reference to MI5.
"There are serious inaccuracies which could have been avoided.
"The Sunday Times has embellished a number of emails and haven't told the whole story."
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He denied backing or helping with the campaign, which urged British authorities to take action against Russian mining magnate Alexander Shchukin.
The Sunday Times reports Mr Shchukin is under house arrest in Siberia over corruption charges but that "a large part of his wealth is thought to remain in the UK".
Sir Henry said he first heard about the campaign through a lawyer he had known for many years.
"I've known him for a very long time, he has been a friend of mine since 2001," he added.
"He asked me if I could help with this campaign and I said - and this is the point The Sunday Times missed - I didn't know anything about this case."
He agreed to attend a dinner at the House of Lords to hear a presentation on the campaign which he believed was "to expose money laundering and criminal activity".
"I felt it was quite a strong case, it's about human rights and the Russian oligarch possibly laundering money," he said. "My involvement was minimal."
The Sunday Times has been approached for comment.