Because the UK authorities seeks methods to tackle Russian oligarchs with hyperlinks to Vladimir Putin’s regime, the overseas secretary, Liz Truss, has requested authorities legal professionals to “discover actually any means” to crack down on “Slapps” – or strategic lawsuits in opposition to public participation – the place the rich exploit prolonged and costly authorized procedures to silence journalists, critics and watchdogs.
How do Slapps differ from bizarre defamation lawsuits?
Whereas Slapps usually come up out of defamation lawsuits and ostensibly have the identical goal – of defending the claimant’s repute – they’re seen as an try to shut down public criticism, with the claimant typically detached about whether or not they really win the case.
What’s the menace posed by Slapps?
The worry is that they discourage investigative reporting into wealthy and highly effective folks due to the potential prices of defending a declare, even when it has little or no advantage.
In a parliamentary debate on Slapps in January, David Davis, a Conservative MP and former cupboard minister, mentioned “nefarious” actors have been utilizing the justice system “to threaten, intimidate and put the worry of God into British journalists, residents, officers and media organisations”. He described such techniques as “lawfare”.
The International Coverage Centre mentioned the UK was “the most frequent country of origin” for overseas authorized threats in opposition to investigative journalists.
How are Slapps related to Russian oligarchs?
The usage of Slapps shouldn’t be confined to Russians however one of the crucial infamous latest examples, characterised as such by MPs in addition to free speech campaigners, associated to Putin’s Folks, a ebook written by the journalist Catherine Belton about the Russian leader.
She and her writer, HarperCollins, have been sued over a number of matters in the book by a number of Russian billionaires, together with Roman Abramovich, who owns Chelsea football club, Mikhail Fridman, the proprietor of Russia’s largest non-state financial institution, and the Russian state oil firm Rosneft. All the claims have been subsequently settled or withdrawn. Abramovich ended his case after HarperCollins accepted some info regarding him was inaccurate and agreed to make revisions to the ebook. HarperCollins apologised and agreed to make a cost to charity in recognition of a selected error, however in any other case no damages have been paid and either side agreed to pay their very own prices.
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