27 May 2009
Politician agrees to settlement over libel claims
A politician has agreed to settle in an alleged case of libel, it has emerged.
Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, took legal action over a claim made by a website that his companies offered banking facilities which helped customers unlawfully evade tax, the Press Gazette reports.
Recently, he accepted a public apology from accountant Richard Murphy and an undisclosed sum, which was to be donated to a charity he founded.
Mr Murphy had published an article on his website entitled: "Lord Ashcroft's Belize Bank - a supplier of tax evasion services?"
The story suggested that the claimants knowingly and intentionally supplied or offered to supply banking facilities which unlawfully assisted customers in avoiding paying tax.
According to Lord Ashcroft's legal representative, the article had been based on Mr Murphy's understanding of what he had read on a third party's website.
However, this website had in fact made no such allegations and was not even referring to the claimants.
Lord Ashcroft has been a supporter of the Conservative Party for all his adult life and has served as its treasurer as well as its deputy chairman.