Guardian libel payout to Russian billionaire

By Dominic Ponsford

Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky has accepted £20,000 in damages from the Guardian over an article that accused him of being a robber baron.

The Guardian also been ordered to pay the costs of Berezovsky, who employed libel specialists Carter Ruck. According to Carter Ruck: “The importance of the case to him was to demonstrate publicly that the accusations of fraud made against him were false, as even the Russian courts have ruled”.

Berezovsky is said to be giving the payout to charity.

The Guardian apologised in court in November for the article headlined: “Why do we welcome these robber barons to Britain?”.

Solicitor Andrew Stephenson for Berezovsky told Mr Justice Eady the piece described Berezovsky as the "wanted defrauder of the Russian Region of Samara."

However, Stephenson said that contrary to the obvious implication of the piece the paper accepted that Berezovsky had not been convicted of any crime.

"The words were intended to allude to the charges on which the Russian authorities in March 2003 sought Mr Berezovsky’s extradition from this country," he said.

He continued: "Mr Berezovsky’s case has always been that the charges against him were bogus, trumped up for political reasons after he had publicly criticised policies adopted by the Putin regime."

Debbie Ashenhurst, solicitor for the Guardian, told the judge the Guardian apologised for the distress and embarrassment Berezovsky had been caused by publication of the article.

(Photo: REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid)

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