Sikh Holyman libel tourism case to be thrown out

Freelance journalist Hardeep Singh looks to have finally won his four-year libel tourism fight with Indian religious leader His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj.

His Holiness had until yesterday to pay £250,000 as a security for costs before a planned Court of Appeal hearing due to take place in March.

No money has been forthcoming so it looks like his case has failed. A brief hearing at which his case is expected to be formally struck out is due to take place at the High Court early next week.

The Singh case has become something of a cause celebre as it highlighted what many see as the injustice of a British libel system by allowing foreign claimants to drag journalists through the courts for years at great personal cost.

Singh's own costs are thought to be in excess of £100,000 and he now faces his own lengthy fight against His Holiness to recoup them. Maharaj does not have any assets in the UK.

The original libel claim stems from an article Singh wrote for The Sikh Times in August 2007 which, according to the writ, suggested Maharaj was the leader of a cult and an impostor.

In May this year, Justice Eady threw out the case but the Court of Appeal was due to hear a challenge to his ruling next month.

Maharaj did not sue the Sikh Times, which published an apology to him back in 2007.

Next month the Coalition Government is set to introduce a Libel Reform Bill which could tackle the issue of libel tourism.

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