Can Disgraced Ex-Councillor Dean Archer Sue Grant Shapps?

So Dean Archer, a former Labour Councillor your author calls ‘disgraced’ because he was removed from office for non-attendance at council meetings, is upset with Grant Shapps MP. It appears that Mr Archer’s public libel apology to Mr Shapps, drafted by Shapps’ lawyers was in fact misleading. Archer now indicates that he intends to seek compensation from Shapps for stress.

Before continuing, the Witchfinder would like to point out that he still thinks Archer is a ‘constituent’ – only without the ‘onstit’ and the ‘e’. However it is irritating, to say the least, for a loyal Conservative blogger to have to ‘update’ a story due to an error by their own Conservative MP. So I thought it would be a nice legal exercise to speculate as to what causes of action might be arguable and how much Archer might get. This is of course only speculation and no substitute for a Court decision.

There is a legal subtlety here that needs to be highlighted firmly. The law distinguishes between accidental or negligent mistakes on the one hand and lies and malice on the other. The law also makes it very hard to prove lies. A common (and essential) legal tactic is to pick laws where mistake is all that is needed or where the burden of proof is reversed. Grant says it is all an innocent mistake so your author is going to run with that for the purposes of this article.

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