Former MP wins £10,000 damages after being falsely accused of sex abuse

A former MP has won more than £10,000 compensation for defamation after being falsely accused of being part of a VIP sex abuse ring,

John Hemming, who was Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley from 2005 until 2015, was accused of being a member of a group that abused children in a Staffordshire forest.

In a rare libel action over comments made on social media, he successfully sued Graham Wilmer, founder of the Lantern Project abuse charity, and journalist David Hencke, who worked for the now defunct website Exaro.

John Hemming, who was Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley from 2005 until 2015, was accused of being a member of a group that abused children in a Staffordshire forest

John Hemming, who was Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley from 2005 until 2015, was accused of being a member of a group that abused children in a Staffordshire forest

John Hemming, who was Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley from 2005 until 2015, was accused of being a member of a group that abused children in a Staffordshire forest

Wilmer, who supported the woman making the claims, made four comments on social media between September and October 2017 implying Hemming was guilty.

Police investigated the allegations – made by Esther Baker – but decided to take no further action.

Mr Hemming said: ‘Only a few weeks before making the false allegations [against me] Baker stated on Twitter that she had never met a politician or MP. However, Wilmer and Hencke then [promoted] her false allegations.

‘Wilmer and Hencke never thought of the effect of their activity on my children.

‘I have been on the receiving end of a number of threats of violence and hundreds if not thousands of aggressive messages.

‘One individual has even been convicted for making death threats to me based upon completely false allegations.

‘Newspapers have checks and balances to verify facts and report in a balanced way.

‘There are no such controls on social media or websites many websites.’

Wilmer has agreed to make a payment of £1,000 to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and to pay more than £9,000 to Mr Hemming for legal costs.

Henke agreed to make a payment of £500 to Victim Support. He also agreed to carry a statement on his website and not to refer to Baker as a ‘victim or survivor’.

Wilmer said in a statement to the court: ‘I can confirm that I have settled the claim for defamation made against me by Mr John Hemming.

‘I understand that those publications [the social media messages] have caused Mr Hemming and his family upset and distress for which I apologise.’

He told the court he would make no suggestion in the future that the defendant was guilty of any crime including rape and blackmail.

Last June Mr Hemming attacked police after they ruled Miss Baker should not be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.

He said the move undermined the criminal justice system and would encourage ‘other fantasists’ to make bogus claims.

Miss Baker, who waived her right to anonymity in 2015 to give a television interview about her alleged ordeal. denies being a fantasist. 

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