Peter Cruddas awarded £45k for breach of election law libel

Former Tory treasurer vindicated after Tweets dared him to sue.

Peter Cruddas, Executive Chairman of CMC Markets and former co-Treasurer of the Conservative Party, has today been awarded libel damages of £45,000 in the High Court against Mark Adams, the lobbyist and former Private Secretary to two Prime Ministers.

At a previous court hearing in November 2012, judgment had been entered against Mark Adams with damages to be assessed. Adams is also required to pay the costs of the action and has undertaken to the court not to publish in future the defamatory allegations he had posted about Peter Cruddas on his Blog and via his Twitter account.

On 25 March 2012, the Sunday Times published a number of articles about Peter Cruddas in the newspaper and on its website. Two undercover journalists posing as potential donors to the Conservative Party had secretly filmed a meeting with him on 15 March 2012. Mark Adams claimed credit for introducing the story to the Sunday Times and also for subsequent articles published in the Independent on 9 June 2012.

Since the publication of the Sunday Times articles, Mark Adams waged a persistent and public campaign against Peter Cruddas suggesting that he was a criminal, liable to arrest at any time, who had breached the provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 by seeking to secure an illegal political donation for the Conservative Party.

Mark Adams repeatedly challenged Peter Cruddas in his blogs and Tweets that if he were not guilty then he should sue Adams for libel. When it became clear that nothing else would stop the ongoing defamatory campaign, Peter Cruddas took up that gauntlet and in July 2012 commenced a libel action against Mark Adams in the High Court in London.

Despite his previous taunts and having being given ample opportunity to do so, Mark Adams did not file any defence to the claim and so judgment, with costs, was duly entered against him.

The hearing to decide the compensation Mark Adams should pay to Peter Cruddas took place over two days on 23 and 24 January 2013. Both Mr Cruddas and Mr Adams gave evidence. Mr Justice Eady delivered his judgment today. In addition to awarding Peter Cruddas £45,000, the judge said he could “legitimately record, without fear of contradiction, that the allegations of criminality against Mr Cruddas were indeed false and that he is entitled to have his reputation vindicated…”

Mr Cruddas said:

“I am very pleased that this matter is now successfully concluded. This latest legal victory, which follows the Independent’s earlier decision not to defend itself in relation to the articles it published, further strengthens my resolve for my case against the Sunday Times and I am more determined than ever in my fight for justice and to clear my name.”

Mr Cruddas is pursuing a libel action against the Sunday Times which will be tried in June 2013.

5RB’s Desmond Browne QC and Matthew Nicklin (instructed by Russell Jones & Walker) are acting for Mr Cruddas.

Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.