Revealed: Ed Miliband’s dinner with George and Amal Clooney

Daily Telegraph

Ed Miliband shared an intimate dinner with George Clooney and his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer, to discuss fresh sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s regime, The Telegraph can disclose.

Mr Miliband is now considering plans to block a ring of Russian judges and tax officials from entering Britain after discussing the proposals at a dinner with the Clooneys at the London mansion of a leading barrister.
The Labour leader was briefed on proposals to implement a “Magnitsky law” over a private meal with the Hollywood actor and his wife, Amal, the human rights lawyer.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian accountant who died after months of brutal beatings in prison after blowing the whistle on a vast fraud perpetrated by corrupt state officials against a Guernsey-based investment fund.

Under measures adopted by the United States, 34 police chiefs, judges and tax officials involved in Mr Magnitsky’s prosecution and death are banned from entering the country.

Campaigners now want to see similar measures imposed in Britain, which could be brought into law as an amendment to Theresa May’s Serious Crime Bill. The proposals are backed by a group of Labour and Tory backbench MPs.

Any amendment would have a far greater chance of success with the Labour leader’s support.
Mr Miliband was briefed on the campaign over dinner at the London home of Geoffrey Robertson QC, the human rights barrister who is campaigning for a Magnitsky Law in Britain.

Mrs Clooney is a barrister at Mr Robertson’s chambers, Doughty Street, and has represented clients at the International Criminal Court.
Bill Browder, whose firm Hermitage Capital Management was the victim of the £150 million fraud after being raided by Russian police, explained the details of the case to the Labour leader.

Mr Clooney, who is regularly hailed as the world’s most attractive man by fans and is worth around £120 million, has read Mr Browder’s forthcoming book on the case, Red Notice: How I became Putin No 1 Enemy.

The star told the gathering that he believes the book could be made into a movie, it is understood.
One source said Mr Miliband had researched the case before the dinner, and appeared “very keen” on the proposals afterwards. He is also understood to have discussed the case to his brother, David.

However, Mr Miliband’s spokesman played down his interest in the proposals at a time of intense campaigning for the general election, saying: “It’s not something I’ve heard him talk about.”

The dinner sheds new light on the Labour leader’s foreign policy concerns, as well as his social life.
Mr and Mrs Clooney’s September wedding in Venice was a carnival for the world’s celebrity press, with four days of parties, gala dinners and water taxi rides attended by a string of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

Mr Miliband, meanwhile, has cut a far more reserved figure than some of his predecessors, and has urged voters to focus on his policies rather than his public image. He is said to work late into the night on speeches, before rising early, and is said to drink little. His main passion outside politics is baseball.

He has attacked David Cameron over apparent links between the Conservative Party and wealthy Russian donors.
Despite Tory portrayals of a “weak” leader, Russian diplomats concede Mr Miliband would be no soft touch as Prime Minister, citing his battles with major UK energy companies as evidence that he could be willing to target Moscow’s business interests in London.

Mr Magnitsky, an auditor at a Moscow law firm, uncovered the fraud of £150 million by corrupt police and tax officials while acting on behalf of Hermitage. After reporting it to the authorities, he was himself detained in 2008 on suspicion of aiding tax evasion. He died a year later at the age of 37 in a Russian prison after being beaten and denied medical treatment.

In a bizarre and sinister act of defiance against the US, in 2013 Russia tried and convicted Mr Magnitsky posthumously for tax evasion. Putin also banned Americans from adopting Russian orphans.

Mr Browder’s campaign has gathered Russian travel documents which, it says, prove the Russian officials have travelled into Britain – despite denials issued privately by Home Office ministers.
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