Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) actions are brought by powerful and wealthy oligarchs, eager to avoid scrutiny, to intimidate journalists and civil society into either not publishing or removing information from the public domain and penalise them for critical reporting. The inequality of resources many media face when defending a legal challenge means that information in the public interest is being suppressed on a wide range of issues. ILP’s lawyers will continue to fight not just for free and impartial media but also for the society’s right to information so that wrongdoers can be held to account. ILP urgently mobilised media defence lawyers for investigative journalists and anti-corruption activists facing intimidation by oligarchs whose illicit activities they were seeking to expose in Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa, and the UK. The crippling effect of libel and defamation suits against Pakistani media outlets over the years has intimidated all but one, Dawn Newspaper, to stop their coverage.
LP represented Dawn’s journalists and helped them to face down multiple legal threats from Malik Riaz, one of the country’s richest businessmen, with deep connections to the country’s politicians so that their publications could stay in the public domain.
As a result of Dawn’s investigations remaining publicly accessible, the UK Home Office used the data as part of its case to revoke visa access for Malik and his son to travel to the UK, where they had purchased tens of millions in properties, on the grounds of their evident involvement in corruption. The National Crime Agency has seized more than £190 million of the family’s assets in the UK and returned these to the government of Pakistan.
Malik Riaz and his Hyde Park mansion, seized by UK enforcement agencies