Sunday, October 16, 2011

Billionaire Media Tycoon Sued for Libel

Sergei Polonsky, a Russian property developer who was punched during a television talkshow by billionaire media tycoon Alexander Lebedev, is suing Lebedev for libel in Britain for saying that Polonsky deserved the beating.  Lebedev told Britain's BBC that Polonsky had insulted him for 90 minutes "which actually ended with direct aggression against me, with actually a threatening move." Russian prosecutors have already opened a criminal assault case against Lebedev, owner of Britain's Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers, over the incident in which Lebedev punched Polonsky in the face on prime time television.  Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the assault "hooliganism."  Lawyer Andrew Stephenson, representing Polonsky, said Lebedev had made the matter worse by giving interviews since the incident, including to British media, in which he defended his assault as a justified response to Polonsky's behavior. "Mr Lebedev seems to be saying in effect that Mr Polonsky got what he deserved. What Mr Polonsky is looking for is a full apology and compensation for the defamation," said Stephenson.

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