Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson sued over ‘brown envelopes’ bribery claim

Conservative MP Lee Anderson is being sued for libel after making comments about a man who runs a food bank in his constituency.

The legal action against the controversial politician is being launched days after Rishi Sunak promoted Mr Anderson to deputy chair of the Tory party.

Lawyers acting for Michael Hollis, who runs a food bank charity, said he was “outraged” after the Ashfield MP made claims about money in “brown envelopes” changing hands in relation to a planning application.

These comments, made on 1 February amounted to “defamatory allegations of bribery”, they said.

The Independent has contacted Mr Anderson’s office for comment.

In a statement, lawyers Bindmans LLP said: “Bindmans LLP has been instructed to pursue libel proceedings against Lee Anderson MP, the controversial new deputy chairman of the Conservative party.

“On 1 February 2023, Mr Anderson made defamatory allegations of bribery against a local man, Michael Hollis, who runs a food bank charity.

“Mr Anderson claimed in a Facebook post published to his 35,000 followers that money had changed hands in brown envelopes in relation to a planning application made by Mr Hollis.

“Mr Hollis is outraged by this allegation and, after Mr Anderson refused to remove his post, has taken the first steps towards a libel claim against him. Mr Hollis is represented by Tamsin Allen of Bindmans LLP.”

Mr Anderson has expressed disdain for food banks in the past, claiming that “do-gooders” were starting food banks to make themselves feel good and that there was no “massive” need for them.

The Nottinghamshire MP came to national attention in 2021 after he launched a one-man boycott of the England team for “taking the knee” as an anti-racism gesture during the Euros.

His appointed by Mr Sunak has been greeted with scepticism, including from some inside the Conservative Party. Before the launch of the libel suit, one former minister told The Independent Mr Anderson would be a “walking embarrassment” in the job.

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