British law firm used by Russian mercenary Yevgeniy Prigozhin is investigated

This piece was originally published in The Times on 26th January 2023. You can read the original piece here.

A London law firm representing a Russian mercenary who threatened to sue a British journalist is under investigation for allegedly breaching rules to protect free speech.

Experts have commented that this is the most egregious example of a Slapp they have ever seen, so it’s odd that its investigation is taking so long.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch known as “Putin’s chef” and who controls the Wagner Group of mercenaries, instructed Discreet Law to bring defamation proceedings against Eliot Higgins, the journalist who founded the investigative publishers Bellingcat.

The oligarch’s case was ultimately dismissed by the High Court in London. Afterwards, lawyers for Higgins alleged to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that the claim was “an obvious case of strategic litigation against public participation”.

The law firm that represented Higgins in his battle against Prigozhin noted that the watchdog had been considering the complaint for eight months and that they had just asked for another three months before coming to a decision. “Experts have commented that this is the most egregious example of a SLAPP they have ever seen, so it’s odd that its investigation is taking so long,” said Matthew Jury, a partner at the firm McCue Jury & Partners.

Mr Jury added that he hoped that the watchdog’s investigation was “being carried out with the utmost rigour and seriousness. Nonetheless, given the public interest, we can only hope it won’t take too much longer.”

Read the full article here: The Times