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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
MP libel victory over 'swearing'
Martyn Jones MP
Martyn Jones said the story had damaged his reputation
A Labour MP has won 5,000 libel damages over a newspaper claim he swore at a House of Commons security guard.

Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South, sued Associated Newspapers for defamation after a Mail on Sunday story in 2006.

The article claimed Mr Jones repeatedly swore at the guard when he asked to see his pass, and told him he should have known who he was.

Mr Jones admitted he swore in front of guard but not at him and said the article was a "grotesque distortion".

Associated Newspapers denied defamation throughout the four-day hearing at London's High Court.

I have always denied the allegations made by the Mail on Sunday and today justice has been done
Martyn Jones, MP

But Mr Jones claimed the story - published under the headline "Labour MP in foul-mouthed outburst at police guard" and followed up the following week - contained "at least a dozen untrue assertions".

He admitted swearing, but denied telling the security guard to "f*** off".

After Thursday's verdict, Mr Jones said: "I am absolutely delighted because this case was not about money - it was about clearing my name.

"I am not the kind of person described in the Mail on Sunday's article.

'Vindictive'

"It has been a terrible four days but worth every minute because my constituents now know for sure that I did not do what was said in the article."

He added: "This article was a political attack against me as a Labour MP by a right-wing newspaper. It is as simple as that.

"Today, however, the nasty, vindictive political games of the Mail on Sunday have been rumbled.

"They deliberately exaggerated the incident in a crude attempt to ruin my integrity. They have failed in doing so.

"I have always denied the allegations made by the Mail on Sunday and today justice has been done."

After losing the case, Associated Newspapers will have to pay the court costs - estimated to be up to 300,000.

The court heard from security guard Christopher Ham, who had been working at the Palace of Westminster as a Metropolitan Police security officer for six months in May last year.

Vigilant

He told the court: "On the day of the incident I had been on my post since six in the morning.

"I enjoy my work thoroughly and I never let my attention wander whilst I'm on duty. You are taught in training to always be vigilant and protect the building.

"There was a gentleman coming up the escalator who I now know to be Martyn Jones.

"I politely asked to see his pass. His first reaction was to tell me to 'f*** off' - he was an MP.

"I politely persisted. His second reaction was 'f*** off, you should know who I am. You don't have the right to question me, you're only security.'

"I persisted and followed him to the lift where he reluctantly showed me his name and I wrote it down."

But that version of events was disputed by the MP, who claimed he never swore at the guard, but admitted: "I swore in front of him."

He told the court: "I wasn't abusing anybody or anything. I wasn't abusing him or his position.

"Maybe I shouldn't have said what I said in front of him, and that's why I apologised."


SEE ALSO
MP sues paper for abuse 'libel'
11 Jun 07 |  North East Wales

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