Guardian apology for Russian businessman

Prominent Russian businessman and politician, Boris Berezovsky,
today accepted a public apology at London’s High Court and is also to
receive libel damages from Guardian Newspapers over a Guardian article
on 25 October this year headed “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,”
said Stephenson.

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.”

He said that today there could be no doubt that there
was no foundation to fraud allegations levelled against Berezovsky by
the Russian prosecutor.

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

The
judge was told that under the “offer-of-amends” libel procedure the
amount of compensation Berezovsky is to receive will be decided at a
separate hearing if a figure cannot be agreed.

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