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Nadir sister's SFO case rejected

A judge has thrown out a pounds 1m legal action against the Serious Fraud Office by Bilge Navzat, the sister of Asil Nadir who sued last year for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.

The case was struck out in the High Court on the grounds that the actions of the Metropolitan police officers concerned were the responsibility of their commissioner, not the SFO.

Mrs Navzat was arrested in connection with allegations - later withdrawn - that she was involved in a plot to bribe Mr Justice Tucker, the judge handling her brother's trial. Peter Krivinskas, Mrs Navzat's solicitor, said yesterday that an appeal against the decision to strike out the case had been lodged in the High Court on Tuesday.

He said: "It is important for the SFO to be held accountable for people working under its direction. If what they say is right, the SFO can never be held accountable for its actions. The law has not caught up with the creation of the SFO."

The case was struck out because existing legislation, which Mr Krivinskas said came into force before the SFO came into existence, states that only a chief constable or the Metropolitan Police Commissioner can be sued for his officers' actions.

But the officers who arrested Mrs Navzat were working for the SFO, where all the files on the case were kept. "They have the files in their building and the Metropolitan police have no files on it.

Mr Krivinskas confirmed that Mrs Navzat's total claim was likely to be in the region of pounds 1m. A parallel lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment has not been ruled out.

Mr Krivinskas said that after the arrest Mrs Navzat had been questioned for two to three minutes about police inquiries into assets that Mr Nadir had supposedly been hiding from his trustees in bankruptcy. But the rest of the questioning was all about the bribery allegations, which was clearly the reason behind her detention.

The SFO made clear this week in its annual report that it had not dropped its intention to prosecute Mr Nadir if he "returned or is returned" to the jurisdiction from northern Cyprus.

In April, Elizabeth Forsyth, who worked for Mr Nadir, was jailed for five years after being found guilty on two counts of dishonestly handling stolen money from Polly Peck International.