UK judge throws out libel case against Bill Browder

Financial Times

A High Court judge has thrown out a libel lawsuit brought by a Russian former policeman against Bill Browder, the UK-based fund manager behind the US Magnitsky Act.

Mr Browder had become a hate figure for the Russian leadership after lobbying Congress to adopt the Magnitsky law last year. The law imposed sanctions on Russians allegedly involved in a $230m fraud and the death in custody of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer Mr Browder had employed to investigate it.

The defamation case had been brought in London by ex-policeman Pavel Karpov, who was attempting to sue over allegations on a campaigning website run by Mr Browder.

Magnitsky died in a Russian jail four years ago but he was convicted of tax evasion this year in a posthumous trial in Russia that drew widespread criticism in the west.

Mr Browder’s lawyers had applied to the High Court to have Mr Karpov’s lawsuit struck out before trial.
On Monday Mr Justice Simon did just that, ruling Mr Karpov “cannot establish a reputation within this jurisdiction” to bring the lawsuit.

The judge said Mr Karpov’s connection with Britain is “exiguous” and Russia rather was “the natural forum” to bring the lawsuit as the “connection with [the UK] is limited”.

Mr Browder’s campaign had accused Mr Karpov of being involved both in the fraud and of being among police who arranged for Magnitsky’s arrest and alleged torture in jail. Mr Karpov’s libel writ said those claims were false.

The judge’s decision is significant because it underscores the growing challenge to people with only a weak link to London bringing libel claims there.

This is likely to be strengthened when the 2013 Defamation Act – which has been given royal assent – comes into force. The new legislation makes it more difficult for international claimants with weak links.

Mr Browder alleged in his legal arguments that the Russian government was ultimately behind the case and was using it to attempt to force him to remove videos from his website.

Antony White QC, Mr Browder’s barrister, claimed in court papers during the hearing that Mr Karpov “does not have the means to pay for this litigation himself” and was relying on an unidentified friend for funding.

“The court cannot be satisfied that the Russian state is not behind the claims in some way,” he alleged in written submissions aired during the case.

However, the judge noted in his ruling that Mr Karpov had claimed a guarantor for the case was a friend and businessman with no link to Russia.

The judge in his ruling noted Mr Karpov said in a witness statement that he did not have a substantial reputation to protect in the UK before the case and had travelled to England on five previous occasions. Following the videos, he alleged he now had an “appalling reputation” in England.
Mr Karpov’s barrister Andrew Caldecott QC claimed in his written submissions in the case that for his client: “All the allegations are very serious and on the claimant’s case false.”

“The most serious allegations . . . are not true and are not justified: the claimant did not arrest Mr Magnitsky and did not torture or kill him,” Mr Caldecott wrote in his arguments on the case, which were heard in July.

Mr Justice Simon ruled on Monday that, in his view, there were “inadequate particulars to justify the charge that the claimant was a primary or secondary party to Sergei Magnitsky’s torture and murder”.
But he also said: “The defendants have not come close to pleading facts which, if proved, would justify the sting of libel.” онлайн займы займы на карту срочно https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php https://www.zp-pdl.com payday loan

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