MP Robert Halfon faces Libya libel suit

The tory MP campaigning for an inquiry into the funding of British universities by authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes has been threatened with a libel action by one of his targets.

Backbencher Robert Halfon, whose grandfather left Libya in the 1960s after anti-Jewish pogroms, has received formal notice that Liverpool John Moores University (JMU) is seeking damages for comments made on his blog about its investments from Libyan sources.

Mr Halfon has led the charge against UK universities which have accepted money from the Gaddafi regime.

JMU has defended its links to Libya, which it says were backed by the Foreign Office and the British Council. It stood to earn £1.2 million to deliver degree programmes at a medical university in Tripoli, although it is understood it received considerably less. After initial threats from JMU, Mr Halfon agreed to remove the offending post from his blog, but this has not been enough.

The univeristy has now demanded an apology, costs and a donation to a Libyan charity.

Lawyer and anti-libel campaigner David Allen Green, from Preiskel and Co, will represent Mr Halfon in what may become a high-profile freedom of information case.

Last updated: 12:56pm, March 24 2011