A CONSERVATIVE election candidate is threatening to sue his Liberal Democrat rival for libel in a row over an election leaflet.

The Echo understands a letter has been sent from the campaign office of Christchurch MP Sir Chris Chope, in which he demands that Michael Cox apologise for his allegations and "publish without delay a suitable correction and apology".

If he does not, the implication is that Sir Chris could then sue for defamation.

In his leaflet entitled: "Chope’s Record", Mr Cox alleges the MP: "Objected to the outlawing of upskirting and protection of girls over FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), objected to limits on car parking charges for hospital carers and objected to WW2 hero Alan Turing being pardoned for being gay."

In a rebuttal, Sir Chris's office said: "Christopher Chope did not object to ‘the outlawing of upskirting and protection of girls over FGM'. "He objected to bills receiving a second reading without debate but his objections were not to the substance of either bill. The motion put in each case was ‘that the bill be read a second time’.

!In fact, Christopher Chope supported both bills. The text of your leaflet is designed to convey, however, the innuendo that Christopher Chope objected to the substance of both bills, which is completely false.

"Christopher Chope participated in the debate on the Hospital Parking Charges (Exemption for Carers) Bill which took place in October 2015 but the bill did not go to a vote.

"The assertion that Christopher Chope objected to WW2 hero Alan Turing being pardoned for being gay is totally false.

"The false statements of fact referred to above are serious, unacceptable and defamatory.

"Their purpose is clearly to cause serious harm to Christopher Chope by lowering him in the esteem of right-thinking people and, in particular, reducing Christopher Chope’s chance of re-election as MP for Christchurch.

"If you publish without delay a suitable correction and apology, Christopher Chope will be prepared to forego any further action in defamation."

In reply, Mr Cox claimed there was "nothing defamatory" in what was said.

"We believe that what has been published about Sir Christopher Chope’s record is substantially true," he said. "Mr Chope either shouted 'objection' or filibustered – in either way he stopped progress of the various bills and he is notorious for such conduct.

"These issues have been widely reported and commented on.

"In the light of the above, we will not be making amends and trust that is an end of the matter."

The Echo contacted Sir Chris's office for a statement but his wife, who is also his secretary, said she was unable to comment.