Suella Braverman: Fareham MP considering legal action over story connecting her to Buddhist order with history of sexual abuse claims

ATTORNEY General Suella Braverman, the MP for Fareham, is considering suing a national newspaper about a story over her membership of a Buddhist order.

Monday, 17th February 2020, 5:08 pm
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 8:48 pm
Newly appointed Attorney General Suella Braverman. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The story in The Observer said Mrs Braverman is a 'mitra' - a Sanskrit word meaning friend - within the Triratna order, one of the largest Buddhist groups in the UK.

More than 40 members claim they experienced or know of sexual misconduct carried out by senior members or the order's founder, Dennis Lingwood, according to an internal report made public last year.

A senior member congratulated Mrs Braverman on her appointment as attorney general in a now-deleted Facebook post above a picture of the group's controversial founder, according to The Observer report.

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A spokesman from the MP's office confirmed she is a member of the wider Triranta congregation.

However, Mrs Braverman declined to comment on whether or not she had met Mr Lingwood, who died in 2018, or if she was aware of the allegations made against him.

Now Mrs Braverman is considering legal action against the newspaper, the spokesman said.

He said: 'Suella has spoken to a number of lawyers. They are seeing whether there are grounds for libel.'

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The MP had tried to keep her faith private, according to the spokesman, and she has taken particular issue with reporting that the order is a 'sect.'

He said: 'It is bordering on prejudicial - this wouldn't be happening if she was part of a different religion.

'(The order) is not a shadowy organisation.

'It has thousands of members and its leaders are regularly invited on to BBC Radio Four.

'It has been completely open - the police have been aware of (the allegations) for a long time.'

A spokeswoman for the order told The Observer that Mr Lingwood had never been accused, charged, or convicted of any crime.

In 2017, shortly before allegations about sexual misconduct surfaced, Mr Lingwood issued a statement acknowledging his ‘deep regret for all the occasions’ he had ‘hurt, harmed or upset fellow Buddhists.’

Mrs Braverman, who became an MP in 2015, declined to comment.