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Andrew Bridgen MP Accused of Dishonesty by Judge

Also alleged to have pressured police to investigate brother

An extraordinary report about Andrew Bridgen MP in The Sunday Times:

A Conservative MP lied under oath, behaved in an abusive, arrogant and aggressive way, and was so dishonest that his claims about a multimillion-pound family dispute could not be taken at face value, a high court judge has ruled.

The dispute concerned the Bridgen family’s potato empire AB Produce:

… In court [Andrew Bridgen] argued he had been forced out by Paul, 55, his brother, a claim the judge described as a lie. In fact, the judge ruled, he had quit because he thought it might reduce the amount he owed his first wife, Jackie, 57, in divorce proceedings.

…During the case Peter Ellis, a director of AB Produce, claimed that in January 2017 Bridgen sent texts that were so aggressive they brought him to the brink of a “nervous breakdown”.

…In October 2017 Bridgen called Inspector Helena Bhakta, the commander of the neighbourhood policing team for his constituency, whose force he is supposed to scrutinise. He asked her to investigate an alleged seven-figure fraud against him by his brother. Bridgen claimed he had not made the call as “it would not have been proper”. He said he had contacted the fraud squad.

However, on October 16, 2017, Bhakta wrote: “As NPT commander I have regular contact with Andrew Bridgen over constituent matters. Today he asked that I call him. On doing so he informed me that he suspects his brother is committing fraud.”

This sort of thing might once have been grounds for resignation, although in today’s political culture, as Matthew Scott observes, the judge’s findings are “probably the beginning of Andrew Bridgen’s leadership bid”. It appears that the judge has in effect accused Bridgen of perjury, although that particular word is not used and any criminal investigation would have to make a case that is stronger than mere balance of probabilties; Bridgen continues to assert that his account has been truthful so far as he recollects. The Sunday Times describes Bridgen as having “pressured” Bhakta, and states that this pressue prompted “a costly inquiry lasting more than a year”.

Bridgen has issued a statement on Twitter in which he says he is “exploring all avenues with regard to legal options”, and argues that

if courts got everything correct the first time then there would be no need for appeal mechanisms nor would I have had to campaign for 12 years to get justice for the 736 innocent sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted.

This is a rather more circumspect approach to issues of law and justice than we have seen from Bridgen in the past, when he was at the forefront of promoting Wiltshire Police’s posthumous investigation into former Prime Minister Edward Heath. Bizarrely, Wiltshire’s Chief Constable Mike Veale designated Bridgen a “stakeholder”, meaning that he got advance access to the force’s final report, and it seems reasonable to infer that Bridgen was the conduit by which details of the investigation were leaked to the Mail on Sunday‘s political correspondent Simon Walters. More recently, Bridgen arranged for Veale to become adviser to Rupert Matthews, a UFO enthusiast who is currently Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland – a controversial “well paid” appointment. Bridgen’s informal influence here post-dates his dispute with his brother, but given this earlier context it is troubling. (1)

Bridgen is known primarily due to his willingness to provide the media with a stream of quotes relating to any subject that might be considered newsworthy – a strategy that allows a politican to raise their profile while also avoiding more serious scrutiny.

Note

1. Bridgen also has links with the conspiracy milieu: in 2021 he was criticised after giving an interview to Anna Brees, and her former associate Jon Wedger previously claimed in 2018 that Bridgen had “made contact” with him. There is also a photo of Wedger and fellow Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy fanatic Jeanette Archer sitting at an outside café table with an unidentified man whose appearance from the rear is consistent with Bridgen.

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