British politics: BBC temporarily halts news operations in Russia after new law threatens journalists with jail – as it happened | Politics

As the British government looks for ways to crack down on Russian oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has asked government lawyers to “find literally any way” to crack down on the “Slapps” – or strategic lawsuits against public participation. – where the wealthy exploit lengthy and costly legal proceedings to silence journalists, critics and watchdogs.

How are Slapps different from regular defamation suits?

While slapps generally stem from libel suits and apparently serve the same purpose – to protect the plaintiff’s reputation – they are seen as an attempt to end public criticism, with the plaintiff often uninterested in whether they actually win the slap. ‘case.

What is the threat posed by Slapps?

The fear is that they will discourage investigative reporting on the wealthy and powerful because of the potential costs of defending a claim, even if it has little or no merit.

During a parliamentary debate on Slapps in January, David Davis, a Conservative MP and former Cabinet minister, said “villainous” actors were using the justice system “to threaten, intimidate and make journalists, citizens, civil servants and British media bodies.” He called the tactics “the law.”

The Foreign Policy Center said the UK was “most common country of originfor foreign legal threats against investigative journalists.

How are Slapps connected to Russian oligarchs?

The use of Slapps is not limited to Russians but one of the most notorious recent examples, characterized as such by MPs as well as free speech activists, linked to Putin’s People, a book written by journalist Catherine Belton on the Russian leader.

She and her publisher, HarperCollins, have been sued over a number of issues in the book by several Russian billionaires, including Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football club, Mikhail Fridman, owner of Russia’s largest non-state bank, and Russian state oil. Rosneft company. All claims were subsequently settled or withdrawn. Abramovich ended his affair after HarperCollins admitted that some information about him was inaccurate and agreed to make revisions to the book. HarperCollins apologized and agreed to make a payment to charity in recognition of a particular error, but otherwise no restitution was paid and both parties agreed to pay their own costs.

Learn more here:

Comments are closed.