Journalist Wins in ‘Kleptocrat’ Book Libel Case


The High Court has dimissed a libel case brought by a post-Soviet mining company against a UK journalist.

Kazakhstan-based Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), a mining company with interests around the world, brought the lawsuit against journalist Tom Burgis for his book ‘Kleptopia’.

The book is about how dirty money and corruption are now “flooding the global economy, emboldening dictators [and] poisoning democracies”. The book included stories about ENRC, among other organisations, and ENRC sought substantial damages from Mr Burgis.

In court, lawyers for ENRC claimed Mr Burgis defamed the corporation because the real meaning of part of his book was that the company had three men murdered to protect its business interests.

In an early ruling, High Court Judge Mr Justice Nicklin found the claim against Mr Burgis to be wholly flawed, and ruled to stop the case.

The judge said he had read the book for himself before considering the case papers to form a view like any other ordinary reader. He said that ENRC’s claim was not sustainable because every reader would know that only individuals can commit murder, rather than corporations.

Following the decision, the case can no longer proceed to a full libel trial.

The judge awarded £50,000 in costs against ENRC and refused permission to appeal.

Mr Burgis’ publisher, HarperCollins, said the case had been an attempt to use legal and financial firepower to silence public interest journalism.


Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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