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Libel suit against Bill Browder thrown out by British court

Monday, October 14, 2013
Opalesque Industry Update - Law and Order In Russia reports that the UK court has thrown out Russian Police Officer Pavel Karpov’s libel suit against Bill Browder, in what the site describes as ‘the most egregious case of libel tourism in British history’.

The UK High Court threw out the libel suit filed by unemployed Russian ex-police officer Pavel Karpov against William Browder, Hermitage Capital and Jamison Firestone, as an abuse of the court process.

“I have concluded that these proceedings should be struck out as abuse of the process and/or under the inherent jurisdiction,” said presiding Judge Simon in the judgement read out today in the UK High Court.

The judge found that there was ‘a degree of artificiality’ about Karpov seeking to protect his reputation in the UK. The ruling also stated that the claim should be thrown out because Karpov had little connection to the UK and the UK court would not be a proper forum to decide on Karpov’s inclusion in the US Magnitsky list. The judge said that the impact of any UK judgement “would be unlikely to assist (let alone achieve) the most important of the Claimant’s stated objec­tives: his removal from the Magnitsky list.”

Karpov is subject to a U.S. asset freeze and U.S. visa ban for his role in the Magnitsky affair under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. One of the key issues in the proceedings was how an unemployed Russian ex-police officer could afford to hire some of the most expensive libel specialists in the country, including Geraldine Proudler, partner of the Olswang law firm, Andrew Caldecott QC, and the public relations specialists from PHA Media. Karpov refused to disclose to the UK court who was financing his legal operations.

The site says that the British court system has been systematically abused by libel tourists from around the world to exploit the ‘pro-claimant’ bias of the English libel law. In this case, an unemployed Russian ex-police officer associated with a Russian organized crime group responsible for the theft of $230 million and the false arrest and killing of 37-year old Sergei Magnitsky, then tried to use the British courts to stifle the campaign to get justice for Sergei Magnitsky’s torture and murder in custody.

“What is particularly abhorrent about the Karpov libel suit is that reputable English solicitors and barristers would effectively become mercenaries to assist corrupt Russian officials persecuting their victims outside Russia,” said a Hermitage Capital representative. “Thankfully, the court took a decision which reflects natural justice and common sense.”

Opalesque last reported on Bill Browder’s campaign in May. You can read that piece here.

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