Sunday Times pays Russian libel damages

Russian academic, Julia Svetlichnaja has accepted a public apology and undisclosed libel damages over a Sunday Times article carrying allegations which she claimed implied she was involved in a campaign to discredit the poisoned former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

The article concerning an investigation into the death of Litvinenko appeared in the 10 December edition of The Sunday Times last year.

Steven Heffer, solicitor for Svetlichnaja, told Mr Justice Charles Gray that it suggested there may have been a “Kremlin-orchestrated” campaign to discredit Litvinenko and continued: “In this context, Miss Svetlichnaja was named as someone who had been employed by a stateowned Russian company, giving rise to an implication that she may have been acting as part of this campaign.”

He said the allegations were entirely without foundation and that Svetlichnaja had no connection with the Kremlin.

“She has never been employed by a state-owned Russian company. If there was a Kremlin-orchestrated campaign to discredit Mr Litvinenko she was certainly not part of it,” said Heffer.

He said that the allegations amounted to a slur on Svetlichnaja’s reputation and integrity, and had caused her considerable distress.

In addition to apologising and paying her damages, Times Newspapers is also to meet her legal costs.

For the paper, solicitor Gillian Phillips told the judge The Sunday Times regretted that the “untrue allegations”

were published.

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