Rich Tory donors have stepped in to pay MP Ben Bradley’s legal costs after false claims that Jeremy Corbyn collaborated with cold war spies landed him in hot water.
Businessmen David Brownlow and Sir Mick Davis handed the Conservative Party vice-chairman for youth £15,000, meaning the five-figure sum Bradley agreed to donate to charity will not come out of his pocket.
A Labour source confirmed that a five-figure sum has been split between a food bank and a homeless charity, and added: “How nice for Ben Bradley to have such generous benefactors.”
Brownlow’s net worth is estimated at £215m. He co-founded a regulatory and compliance advice company called Huntswood in 1996.
Sir Mick, meanwhile, is chief executive of the Conservative Party. He was formerly chief executive of Xstrats plc, a multinational mining company, which merged with Glencore in 2013. He departed the business the same year with a reported £75m.
Mansfield MP Bradley had been threatened with legal action over a defamatory tweet in which he accused Corbyn of “selling British secrets to communist spies”.
It followed claims made in The Sun about Corbyn’s contact with a Czech intelligence agent, Ján Sarkocy, in the 1980s, which were later discredited.
As part of an out-of-court settlement, Bradley agreed to makethe donation and to tweet an apology to Corbyn, making clear his tweet was a defamatory statement.
The post quickly became the most-shared tweet made by any Tory MP.
Sarkocy, a former agent of the Czech StB intelligence agency, was described as a fantasist by Corbyn allies when the claims first emerged.
Corbyn confirmed that he met a diplomat from Czechoslavakia in 1986 – just one of many meetings he had with ambassadors, politicians, activists and dissidents from “the majority of countries in the world”, a spokesman said.
One meeting that Sarkocy said took place in parliament occurred on a Saturday – when Corbyn’s own diaries record that he was at a conference in Chesterfield.
Espionage experts also said it was common practice for Soviet agents to embellish their reports in a bid to impress their superiors.