Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft has settled his libel action over a website claim that his companies offered banking facilities which helped customers unlawfully to evade tax.
Lord Ashcroft, the chairman and majority shareholder in BB Holdings Limited, accepted a public apology and a substantial undisclosed donation to a charity he founded – Crimestoppers – from accountant Richard Murphy.
Murphy, a director of Tax Research LLP, who has a website, Tax Research UK and a related blog, will also pay the legal costs of the peer and two subsidiaries of BB Holdings – The Belize Bank Ltd and Belize Bank International Ltd.
Busuttil said Murphy, of Downham Market, Norfolk, appeared to have based his allegations on his understanding of what he had read on a third party’s website, but that in fact that website said no such thing and its owners had subsequently confirmed that they were not making any such allegations nor were they even referring to the claimants.
Unfortunately, Murphy did not approach the claimants for comment before posting the defamatory allegations, Busuttil said, adding: “In fact, as the defendant accepts, these allegations are entirely false.