Success for rradar in High Court libel case
We are pleased to confirm rradar’s Senior Associate Solicitor, Tim Lawrence, supported by our legal team, was sought out by a former Conservative MP to successfully defend a High Court libel action brought against her by a wealthy businessman and Conservative Party donor.
This case attracted significant attention in the national media, and was highlighted in The Times’s Lawyer of the Week column and referenced in Parliament.
This recognition is a testament to the exceptional skills, expertise and unwavering commitment our team provides to our clients.
Acting for Charlotte Leslie, a former Conservative MP, Senior Associate at rradar, Tim Lawrence, successfully defended a libel action brought against her by Mohamed Amersi, a wealthy businessman and Conservative Party donor who claimed that she had defamed him in letters written to influential people in 2020 and 2021.
Mr Amersi was setting up a similar organisation to the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) which Ms Leslie was then running.
Tim describes the challenges of the case:
The claim in this case alleged defamation of the Claimant to only a small number of individuals, not a mass publication event. It was therefore of critical importance that the Claimant could prove what serious harm had been caused to his reputation by each individual publication. The Claimant chose to put forward a number of general instances which he said showed that his reputation had been seriously harmed.
By contrast, our approach on behalf of the Defendant was to speak to each individual publishee, and interview them about the actual effect on them of the words used by the Defendant. We put that in evidence so that instead of having to make inferences as invited by the Claimant, the Judge was able to consider actual evidence, which he found showed a lack of serious harm in each case. The judge commented that he preferred the approach taken by the Defendant, and that was a key factor in the decision which was made.
Ultimately, the High Court found that Mr Amersi had failed to establish that serious harm had been caused to his reputation and his claim was struck out.
Conservative MP David Davis said in the House of Commons after the judgment that it was a "victory for free speech".
The case was notable because it involved a number of senior and influential politicians as witnesses and formed part of the basis for a debate on certain types of claims currently being brought to court.
This was picked up by the national press and mentioned several times in Parliament, in the current wider debate about SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), which concerns the current practice of wealthy individuals (including Russian Oligarchs) restricting negative press coverage about themselves and their activities by using defamation laws.
The end results
On the day before the judgment was handed down, and after the case had featured in a series of Parliamentary debates, the Government announced an amendment to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill which will give judges additional powers to spot SLAPP cases at an early stage and strike them out as an abuse of the Court’s process.
rradar is pleased to have contributed in a meaningful way to this change in the law.
You can download an electronic copy of The Times article by clicking below -
If you are concerned about defamation or reputation protection, our team is on hand to help - contact us if you need support.