Dr Dan Poulter tells of struggle for justice after newspaper allegations
PUBLISHED: 16:19 25 February 2019
Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has spoken of his 15-month fight for justice after winning a six-figure sum in damages at the end of his legal action for defamation against The Sunday Times.
The newspaper agreed to pay Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Poulter substantial damages and costs after he launched legal action against them – and has apologised to him during a short hearing at the High Court in London.
In November 2017 it had published claims from fellow Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen that Dr Poulter had put his hand up the skirts of three women MPs.
Dr Poulter always denied the claims and last year the Conservative Party’s complaints panel found that no female MP had ever made any complaint against Dr Poulter and that there was “simply no evidence” to support Mr Bridgen’s claims.
Speaking after the High Court case yesterday, Dr Poulter spoke of his relief that it was over and that The Sunday Times had apologised. He could not discuss the exact costs involved – but said the final bill for the newspaper’s publisher could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
He said: “It was one of the most significant events in my life, but I just could not believe it was happening. They were writing these things that I knew were completely untrue.
“I am fortunate to have friends and family who knew the allegations were untrue – but this has been something that has been going on for 15 months.”
Shortly after the allegations were published, Dr Poulter had to take time off work because of stress. He said: “It was a very difficult time – working with my legal team and really struggling to keep going.”
He felt the mood at the time had led to the publication of the report, but was still puzzled about why it was published without basic checks: “There was a bit of a frenzy with all kinds of allegations coming out about different people and organisations – but people still have to check the facts.”
For him the allegations were even more serious because, as a practising doctor, they could also have ended his medical career.
He said: “I am very lucky in that the people I work with didn’t believe them for a minute, but when you are working with patients trust is absolutely crucial.
“One thing that this has shown me is how important support is, whether from the medical people I work with, the politicians, friends and family.
“In the House of Commons I was getting support from MPs across the floor – from those I didn’t really know well before this as well as long-standing friends.”