Ukraine war ‘opening eyes’ to need to reform England’s libel laws, says lawyer Geoffrey Robertson in new book

The Guardian reports

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped “open eyes” to the idea of reforming England’s increasingly draconian libel and privacy laws, according to one of the country’s leading media advocates.

Geoffrey Robertson KC, author of a new book on efforts by the rich and powerful to suppress free speech, Lawfare, said the war revealed the cynical way wealthy Russians – and others – have exploited the English legal system.

The unprovoked invasion ordered by the Kremlin last February has, the barrister said, “brought up the way in which oligarchs, as rich people, have been able to intimidate British journalists and British publishers” in costly libel actions. “Eyes are opening,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.

Robertson highlighted the case of Yevgeny Prigozhin, who acknowledged he was the founder and boss of the Wagner mercenary group in September, but who, until May, was suing the investigative journalist Eliot Higgins in London for tweeting articles linking the Russian oligarch to the same paramilitary organisation.

Last week it emerged that British lawyers acting for Prigozhin, who had been put under sanctions by the UK in October 2020, were given special dispensation by the Treasury to bring the lawsuit against Higgins personally, and for two lawyers to spend £4,000 in travelling to St Petersburg to take instructions.

Read full report