The head of the High Court media list has thrown out a high-profile defamation action and ‘concluded that no purpose would be served by giving the claimant a further opportunity to replead his claim’.

Ruling in Amersi v Leslie and anor the Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin said the case that businessman Mohamed Amersi had his reputation seriously harmed by publication of memos to a former lord chancellor, Sir David Lidington, was ‘fanciful and devoid of reality’. He added: ‘The claimant’s case of serious harm to his reputation is not based on any properly premised inference. It is speculative and optimistic guesswork.’ 

Mr Justice Nicklin

Mr Justice Nicklin

Source: Avalon

Amersi, who has donated more than £500,000 to the Conservative Party, brought a defamation claim against Conservative former MP Charlotte Leslie, saying documents that contained defamatory allegations against him were shared with and forwarded to influential individuals which caused him reputational harm.

The 108-page judgment highlights Amersi’s second witness statement in support of an amendment application, which Nicklin said contained ‘much irrelevant material’. He said he failed to understand why some evidence in the witness statement was included ‘other than, perhaps, as an effort to embarrass the Conservative Party’.

He added: ‘Witness statements in litigation are not to be used for settling scores or advancing some wider agenda.’

Refusing permission to amend, Nicklin said he must consider whether the claimant should be given further opportunity to ‘attempt to remedy the issue that has led to the claim being struck out’.

He said: ‘If there is no realistic prospect that the party can fix the problem, providing a further opportunity is simply likely to waste further the parties’ costs and the court’s resources. In my judgment, the claimant should not be given a further opportunity to see whether he can plead a case of serious harm to reputation caused by the publications relied upon.

‘I do not consider that there is any realistic prospect that he could advance such a case. The amendment application has failed not on a technicality, because of a deficiency in pleading, but substantively, because the evidence relied upon does not disclose a claim with a real prospect of success.’

Nicklin highlighted ‘real cause for concern’ in Amersi’s conduct, listing the delay in starting defamation proceedings, an ‘exorbitant approach to the litigation’ as well as media interviews and parts of his witness statement.

He said there was a ‘strong’ suggestion that ‘the claimant has treated this libel action as providing him with an opportunity also to seek to embarrass (and possibly to punish) the Conservative Party for, as he pervieves it, having wronged him’.

He added: ‘That is not a legitimate purpose for cviil proceedings for defamation.’

Dismissing the claim, Nicklin said: ‘By conducting the proceedings in the way I have identified, the claimant has exhausted any claim he might have on the further allocation of the court’s resources to this action. Although I have concluded that no purpose would be served by giving the claimant a further opportunity to replead his claim, I am also satisfied that it would not serve the overriding objective to permit the claimant to do so. As a result, this claim is at an end.’