Former Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has launched legal action against Matt Hancock after joining actor Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party.
Mr Bridgen was expelled from the Conservative Party in April after claiming in January the COVID-19 vaccine was “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust”.
Mr Bridgen announced on Wednesday he has now submitted a defamation claim to the High Court as he said Mr Hancock’s comments were an attempt to “shut down valid concerns expressed by me”.
He has launched a crowdfunding appeal for his legal action and said any excess funds will be donated to charities “supporting the COVID-injured and COVID-bereaved”.
The MP for North West Leicestershire also announced he has joined the Reclaim Party, which was launched by actor Laurence Fox in 2020 to promote freedom of speech after he says he was “cancelled” for “challenging the woke orthodoxy of white privilege and systemic racism”.
He will stand as a candidate for his new party in the seat he has held since 2010 in the next general election, which Mr Bridgen predicted will be this autumn.
Mr Bridgen said he could appeal his expulsion from the Conservative Party but is not doing so because the party is “out of touch with people’s hopes and aspirations” and is introducing policies “that threaten my constituents’ freedoms”.
He said he receives “thousands of emails every week from the public” telling him how important it is to speak out against the COVID vaccine and “is stopped in the street and told how important it is to the public”.
“The difference between the public and parliament is like night and day,” he added.
“Without justice, we’ll be plunged into a time of darkness and tyranny.”
The MP physically crossed the House of Commons floor on Wednesday to sit on the opposition benches, where he will sit as the Reclaim Party’s first MP.
The Lib Dems said Mr Bridgen should now call a by-election after joining the Reclaim Party.
Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Andrew Bridgen and his misinformation have absolutely no place in the House of Commons and now his defection to a failed fringe political party cements it.
“If Bridgen wants to sit as an MP for this party he should do the right thing – resign and call a by-election.”