Jeremy Corbyn has won an apology and payout from a Tory MP who tweeted a “wholly untrue” allegation that the Labour leader had “sold secrets to Communist spies”.
Ben Bradley tweeted “Corbyn sold British secrets to communist spies” on Monday but then deleted it after he was threatened with legal action.
It came amid headlines alleging Corbyn had met a Czech spy in his early days an MP in the late 1980s, over which the Labour leader became embroiled in a fierce fight with the Tories and the right-wing press.
Bradley tweeted his full apology to Corbyn on Saturday, admitting his allegation was “wholly untrue and false”.
The statement continued: “I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he had betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies.
“I am very sorry for publishing this false statement and I have no hesitation in offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him.”
On Saturday, it was announced Bradley had agreed to pay Corbyn’s legal costs and “an undisclosed substantial sum” to charity for the tweet.
Labour said Bradley, who is also Tory Party vice chair, was due to tweet: “I fully accept my statement was wholly untrue and false.
“I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies.
“I am very sorry for publishing this untrue and false statement and I have no hesitation in offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him.”
The money will go to a homelessness charity and a foodbank in Bradley’s Mansfield constituency, Labour said.
A spokesman for Corbyn added: “We are pleased Ben Bradley has admitted what he said was entirely untrue and apologised, and that charities in Mansfield will benefit.
“Following the botched smear campaign against Jeremy, this case shows we are not going to let dangerous lies go unchallenged.”
As this article went live, Bradley had not tweeted the apology.
Jan Sarkocy, a former Czech spy, has claimed the Labour leader was on his payroll during the Cold War.
The Labour leader issued a video message on Tuesday night rounding on the newspapers that ran the story over their “smears”.
He attacked their proprietors as “billionaire tax exiles” and warned them “change is coming”.
In the personal video message, the Labour leader hit out at The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Express for printing allegations that he had worked with Sarkocy.
His office later said Corbyn was actually in Derbyshire the day he was alleged to have met Sarkocy in London.
“These claims are a ridiculous smear and entirely false,” his office has said.
“The former Czechoslovak agent Jan Sarkocy’s account of his meetings with Jeremy was false 30 years ago, is false now and has no credibility whatsoever.”