A PROMINENT SNP politician has been threatened with legal action after branding the Brexit Party “shysters” and a “money laundering front”.

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice demanded a retraction from SNP MEP Alyn Smith after he made the comments during a live interview on Sky News – and insisted he must set the record straight by 12pm on Thursday or a High Court action will be raised.

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However, Mr Smith indicated he will not back down, insisting: “Like many others, I would like to see a full, open, and transparent independent inquiry into the funding of Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party.”

In a statement released through the SNP, he pointed to previous case law as a precedent, which states a political party cannot sue for defamation.

When The Herald asked how this would be relevant to an action raised by Mr Tice as an individual, Mr Smith said he was not commenting further.

A legal letter from London law firm Wedlake Bell, sent on behalf of Mr Tice, branded Mr Smith’s remarks “utterly false and highly damaging”.


HeraldScotland: Wedlake Bell's legal letterWedlake Bell's legal letter


It added: “Any viewer who was aware that Mr Tice was the chairman of the Brexit Party would conclude that you were alleging that Mr Tice is himself running a money laundering operation.

“Money laundering is a well-known crime; therefore you were implicitly accusing him of serious criminal conduct.

“This will cause or is likely to cause serious harm to his reputation and to the reputation of the Brexit Party and to its ability to raise funds for its political activities.”

Speaking to Sky News earlier this week, Mr Smith had said: "Well, I've been doing this fifteen years now, and I'm about to enter my fourth term, and I've seen these shysters come and go.

“And the only question about the Brexit Party now is which laws they have broken and where their campaign finances have come from and we'll find that out after the campaign.

“But they're a shell company that's a money laundering front and I have absolutely no doubt they'll be shown to be every bit as feckless as their predecessors in Ukip were."

The Brexit Party has previously faced questions over its funding structure.

READ MORE: SNP MEP Alyn Smith threatened with legal action by Brexit Party 

Wedlake Bell said Mr Smith's interview had subsequently been reproduced in numerous tweets – including one which has been viewed more than 27,000 times.

The letter added: “Mr Tice is deeply affronted by the accusations you have made against him and the Brexit Party.

“Clearly your political viewpoint is different from his, but that can be no excuse for making such a very serious and totally unfounded charge of criminality against our client.

“We are sure that, on reflection, you would not wish a false allegation of criminality to remain on the record. If nothing else, it debases politics.

“The levelling of such an unfounded allegation reflects badly upon your reputation and that of your party.

“Therefore we offer you the following opportunity to set the record straight by issuing an immediate statement making it absolutely clear that neither the Brexit Party nor Mr Tice are involved in money laundering by noon on Thursday 30 May.

“Haste is required in order to prevent the allegation you have made from spreading further than it already has done.”

The law firm said the statement must be worded in the following terms: “On 27 May 2019 I was interviewed by Sky News.

“In that interview, I stated that the Brexit Party and by implication its chairman, Richard Tice, were involved in money laundering.

“Having reflected upon this, I am happy to state that in fact, I do not have any evidence to support this allegation.

“I spoke in the heat of the moment and did not give proper considering to the implications of what I was saying.

“Neither the Brexit Party nor Mr Tice are involved in money laundering. I am happy to set the record straight.”

The letter added: “If you issue the above statement as requested, whilst reserving all his rights, our client will consider his options for further action.

“But if you do not act in the manner requested above, Mr Tice will have no option but to instruct us, following the expiry of the deadline, to bring High Court proceedings against you for appropriate relief, including, but not limited to an injunction and damages.”