Libel tourism dealt blow as Russian case is thrown out

The Times

Libel tourism suffered a serious setback yesterday when a judge threw out a claim by a Russian against a British-based fund manager.

Bill Browder, who successfully led a campaign for sanctions against Russians involved in a $230 million fraud, had been accused by Pavel Karpov, 36, of ruining his reputation.

Mr Browder had alleged that the Russian was behind a large-scale fraud on the Russian taxpayer and linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption activist.

The case has been described as one of the worst examples of libel tourism, in which foreign nationals with little connection to Britain make use of the High Court to settle disputes.

Striking out the action yesterday, Mr Justice Simon said: “The claimant’s connection with this country is exiguous.” Russia, he added, was “the natural forum” for the litigation.

Mr Karpov, a former policeman, was trying to sue over allegations on a campaigning website run by Mr Browder, 49, the chief executive of Hermitage Capital Management. Mr Browder has become a hate figure within the Russian establishment after he persuaded the US Congress last year to adopt the Magnitsky Act. This imposed sanctions on Russians — including Mr Karpov — alleged to have been involved in the $230 million fraud and also with the death of Mr Magnitsky, an accountant and auditor Mr Browder employed to investigate the fraud.

Mr Magnitsky died while being held in a Russian jail four years ago. Mr Karpov had admitted that he did not possess adequate funds to pursue his libel action in Britain, leading Mr Browder’s lawyers to suggest that the court “cannot be satisfied that the Russian state is not behind the claims”.

The judge noted that Mr Karpov said in a statement that he did not have a substantial reputation to protect in the UK and had travelled to England on five previous occasions. Now, however, he alleged that he had an “appalling reputation” in England after the publication of Mr Browder’s allegations.

The Karpov ruling is a second blow to libel tourism: the first was the Defamation Act 2013, which will restrict foreign litigants when it comes into force. Under its provisions, any claimants outside Europe will have to prove their reputations were damaged in Britain.

Libel tourism has grown over the past 20 years, damaging Britain’s standing as a haven of free speech. An increasing number of foreign celebrities and businessmen have taken advantage of Britain’s libel laws “even when there is no obvious connection to this country”, a report by MPs in 2010 found.
The problem has become so extreme that some US states have passed specific laws to prevent “unreasonable” libel rulings made in British courts infringing on their own freedom of speech.

The phrase “libel tourism” was first coined 10 years ago after a string of Hollywood stars used the British courts to sue fellow Americans. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the first, in 1990, when he sued the author Wendy Leigh over an unauthorised biography. микрозаймы онлайн buy viagra online https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php unshaven girls

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