Buying Silence How oligarchs, corporations and plutocrats use the law to gag their critics by David Hooper
31 October 2023
This timely and important book focuses on the controversial issue of SLAPP cases – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – which are designed to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with aggressive opposing lawyers, heavy legal costs and enquiry agents until they abandon the case.
David Hooper, veteran media lawyer, explores how the power of money enabled the very wealthy to crush their critics and outlines the tactics they used.
He examines how billionaire oligarchs, often ex-convicts and linked to organised crime, have tried to launder their reputation in this country by suing for libel, and how they have found lawyers only too happy to pocket their roubles.
Hooper describes his experience with some of these oligarchs, including Boris Berezovsky when Hooper needed an armed bodyguard while collecting evidence in Moscow. It was a case where both plaintiffs were ultimately murdered, as was his client, the editor of Forbes Russia.
The UK also has its home-grown Slappsters, of whom Nadhim Zahawi and Mohamed Amersi are the most recent examples. They also come from Greece, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and the United States. Hooper describes how those with something to hide tried, with varying degrees of success, to stop you knowing about it, and how their lawyers were willing to help them. The well-paid legal profession does not emerge with credit.