Who is Andrew Bridgen? Ex-Tory MP to sue Matt Hancock
Former Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who recently joined Laurence Fox’s The Reclaim Party, is set to sue Matt Hancock over the Covid vaccine row.
Mr Bridgen, who has been the MP for North West Leicestershire since 2010, had lost the whip in January and was permanently expelled from the Conservative Party on April 12 for comparing the Covid vaccination rollout to the Holocaust.
The MP had tweeted: “We know the ‘vaccines’ are causing serious harms and now it’s becoming increasingly clear how they are doing it. No wonder so many people are ill since vaccination.
“As one consultant cardiologist said to me this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”
After his expulsion, the MP had said: “I have been a vocal critic of the vaccine rollout and the party have been sure to make an example of me. I am grateful for my newfound freedom and will continue to fight for justice for all those harmed, injured, and bereaved due to governmental incompetence.”
Former health secretary Mr Hancock, who has been suspended from the Tory Party for appearing on I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, has condemned Mr Bridgen’s comments about the vaccine rollout as “antisemitic”.
In response, Bridgen has now launched a crowdfunding appeal to finance his legal action against Hancock for defamation. He’s said that the excess funds will be donated to charities that help those who are Covid-injured and Covid-bereaved.
But this isn’t the first time the MP has made the news. So, who is Andrew Bridgen?
Who is Andrew Bridgen?
Andrew Bridgen was the Tory MP for North-West Leicestershire from 2010 until 2023.
He previously ran a family business, AB Produce, a vegetable-production company.
In September last year, the Times reported that Mr Bridgen had been ordered to leave his home and pay £800,000 in a dispute with his former business. The company sued him for allegedly failing to pay rent on a property owned by the firm.
In March, a High Court judge ruled that he “lied” under oath, and had behaved aggressively.
In response to the findings earlier in 2022, the Times reported that Mr Bridgen declared that “we live in an imperfect world” and said his legal team was “exploring all avenues with regard to legal options to obtain a just outcome”.
He added: “If courts always got everything correct the first time, there would be no need for appeal mechanisms.”
In 2013, Mr Bridgen said that MPs should be paid more than their salary of £65,73. At the time, he also received more than £7,000 a month from his company, AB Produce.
During a radio interview, he said: “I know MPs who will say in private they are getting poorer.
“Most of my colleagues on the Government benches took a pay cut to be an MP.”
In 2017, the MP had to apologise for not declaring his financial interest in HS2, as his home was being bought by the rail link.
He admitted failing to disclose the financial interest in a debate, but stressed that he had disclosed it in earlier debates.
He married his first wife, Jacqueline, in 2000, and they have two sons. He is now married to his second wife, Nevena, a Serbian former opera singer.
Political views and background
Mr Bridgen has repeatedly called for Tory prime ministers to quit.
In 2013, Mr Bridgen was summoned by the Tory whips for calling for a vote of no-confidence in then-prime minister, David Cameron.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Bridgen said: “The pilot doesn’t know how to land it. We can either do something about it before the crash, or sit back, watch the in-flight movies, and wait for the inevitable.”
In 2018, he called for a vote of no confidence in then-prime minister Theresa May over her Brexit plan.
In a letter that was leaked to the media, he said: “The negotiations with the European Union appear to have deteriorated into a state of complete capitulation.
“We have to deliver Brexit or we will be punished at the polls at the next general election.
“All we have asked from the prime minister is that she sticks to what she has promised on repeated occasions when she declared that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and pledged to take back control of our money, borders, and laws.”
In January 2022, Mr Bridgen called for the prime minister at the time, Boris Johnson, to quit over the Partygate scandal.
Despite backing Mr Johnson in 2019, he publicly called for him to leave in the wake of Partygate, saying: “Sadly, the prime minister’s position has become untenable.
“Leadership is not just about the job title, or even making big decisions — it is equally about having a moral compass, of knowing not just right from left but right from wrong.”
He backed a move to decriminalise TV licence fee non-payment in 2014, arguing that people were being criminalised for “being poor”.
And Mr Bridgen pushed for a Leicester railway line to be restored in 2017 and called for the Government to fund it.
He said: “It would be an incredibly popular move and a very useful one for people from my constituency wanting to get south via Leicester to London or north via Burton.
“We also need to get people into north-west Leicestershire, which is an area of huge economic growth but very low unemployment.
“Another 10,000 jobs will be created here in the coming years and we need to get people from south Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in to do them. To do that, we need proper public transport.
“You could actually run a light railway service. But we need to see the Government’s money.”
Mr Bridgen was criticised in 2014 for his comments about “the power of the Jewish lobby in America”, but insisted he was “certainly not anti-Semitic”.
Jewish News reported that, in response to the backlash, Mr Bridgen said: “It was alleged to me that no American politician would be remotely critical publicly of anything Israel does because, as they put it, if they do, their opponents in the elections or in the primaries would have millions of dollars dropped into their campaign fund, without even asking, to get rid of them.”
He added: “To have a situation where America’s political figures can’t make any comment remotely critical of Israel is in my view unhealthy. I do feel that it falls to Britain to be, when necessary, a critical friend of Israel. I can only regard the words and phrases that were used in Washington as the truth as those politicians saw it. I used the language that I recall was used to me.”
In 2017, Mr Bridgen lashed out at an exhibition that paid tribute to gay men who were hanged under laws that criminalised same-sex acts. He called the exhibition “totally inappropriate”.
According to Pink News, the MP said: “This is totally inappropriate. It’s not what people visit the National Trust for. If I want moral guidance I go to church – not the National Trust.”
The MP caused further controversy in 2018 when he said there were no rough sleepers in his North-West Leicestershire constituency.
While the official figures reflected what Bridgen said, Mark Grant, the boss of Leicester-based charity Action Homeless, said they did not reflect the reality.
The Leicestershire MP also caused a backlash in 2018 for saying he feels “uncomfortable” speaking to a woman in a burka. He said: “They don’t get that behavioural feedback and it makes me uncomfortable.”
He appeared on Sky News in the aftermath of Boris Johnson’s comments about Muslim women. The MP asked Kay Burley if she would “interview me now if I was wearing a crash helmet with the visor down”.
In 2019, he apologised following a backlash to his defence of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s controversial comments on Grenfell.
Mr Bridgen defended his Tory colleague for his “uncharacteristically clumsy” comments suggesting the victims should have used “common sense”.
In November, he faced suspension from the House of Commons for five days after breaking lobbying rules.
He was found to have committed three breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct in his lobbying work for a company called Mere Plantations.
Mr Bridgen said: “Whilst I am extremely disappointed with the recommendations of the committee, I accept them and will comply with them as required to do so.”