UK court throws out Russian Magnitsky libel case

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2013 8:06 AM
UK court throws out Russian Magnitsky libel case

LONDON (Reuters) - London's High Court on Monday threw out a libel suit brought against British investment fund manager Bill Browder by a Russian former police officer who denies allegations that he played a part in the death of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Pavel Karpov, a former Russian Interior Ministry investigator who is on the "Magnitsky list" of people barred from the United States over the lawyer's death, was suing Browder over four videos and two articles linking Karpov to the case.

Magnitsky, who was acting for Browder and his Hermitage Capital Management at the time, was arrested after accusing Russian officials of a $230-million fraud, and died in prison in suspicious circumstances in 2009.

In Monday's High Court judgment, Mr Justice Simon said: "I have concluded that these proceedings should be struck out as abuse of the (court) process ..."

The judge also found that there was "a degree of artificiality" about Karpov trying to protect his reputation in Britain.

Magnitsky was posthumously found guilty of tax evasion by a Moscow court in July this year and Browder was convicted in absentia and sentenced to nine years in jail in the same trial, which was criticized by both the United States and the European Union.

At a High Court hearing earlier this year, Browder's lawyers had argued that Karpov had brought the libel suit to attack his inclusion on the U.S. Magnitsky list.

They alleged that Karpov did not have the means to fund the litigation himself and that "this court cannot be satisfied that the Russian state is not behind the claims in some way".

Karpov, they added, had no connection with Britain and thus no reason to bring his suit in a British court.

Karpov's lawyers wrote in their own submissions that the suggestion that he was acting at the behest of the Russian state was "groundless", noting that his earlier efforts to bring claims against Browder in Russia had been unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Michael Holden)