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The Independent UK

Jack Monroe hints at libel action against Tory in food bank row

PA

Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has hinted at libel action against a Conservative politician who claimed they were profiteering from the poor.

Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, suggested the activist was “making money off some of the most vulnerable in society”.

His comments came during an interview with Reclaim Party deputy leader Martin Daubney where the pair discussed Monroe’s recent criticism of Anderson.

“I donate money out of my own pocket to this food bank, given up time delivering meals with the local chef in all weathers, getting out to people that’s most desperate in need,” the MP said.

“Isn’t it funny – I’m giving up my time and my money to help the people in Ashfield, and what is she doing?

He continued: “She’s taking money off some of the most vulnerable people in society, and making an absolute fortune on the back of people.

“It’s her that’s rich, I’m not rich.”

Daubney made his own allegations against Monroe in the interview, referring to them as the “self-appointed representative of the impoverished”, suggesting they “sold loads of books, done quite well out of it” and “no doubt, probably earns more than the prime minister”.

Anderson made controversial remark about food banks in Commons this week (Parliament TV)

The clip was posted onto Reclaim Party’s social media, after which Monroe asked for it to be taken down, along with an apology. It is still live and has since been viewed over 900,000 times.

Monroe accused Anderson of making “outrageous, libellous statements” and Daubney of “encouraging and promoting” the behaviour, before reaching out to lawyer Mark Lewis, tweeting: “Got a job for you pal.”

Lewis is an established media litigator who pioneered the phone-hacking claims that led to the closure of News of the World.

Monroe later warned the “gloves [were] off” and a lawyer had been instructed, claiming Anderson and Daubney were “playing a very expensive game of chicken with someone who has a proven track record of crossing this particular road without fear nor favour”.

The road in question is in reference to a successful, high-profile libel case Monroe brought against Katie Hopkins in 2017 after she falsely alleged Monroe had vandalised a war memorial.

The row between Monroe and Anderson began after he suggested people needed to learn how to cook and budget, arguing nutritious meals could easily be cooked for as little as 30p a day.

Monroe outside the High Court in London, 2017, after a hearing in her case against Katie Hopkins (PA)

Speaking in the House of Commons, the MP said: “What we do at the food bank, we teach them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget. We can make a meal for about 30p a day, which is cooking from scratch,” he said.

However, he continued to suggest food banks were not necessary across the country, adding: “I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country.

“You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They cannot cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

His comments garnered much criticism from MPs and campaigners, including Monroe who claimed the issue of food poverty did not hinge on a lack of cooking skills but the Conservative party.

“You can’t cook meals from scratch with nothing. You can’t buy cheap food with nothing,” they said.

“The issue is not ‘skills’, it’s 12 years of Conservative cuts to social support. The square root of f*** all is ALWAYS going to be f*** all, no matter how creatively you’re told to dice it.”