Diary: Russia to put British whistle-blower on trial... except he's dead

The Russians are defiantly sticking to their plan to have a trial with an empty dock. There will be two accused. One will be absent because he is a British businessman, banned from Russia from 2005. The other cannot be there, because he is dead. The dead man is Sergei Magnitsky, whose case is now an international cause célèbre. While he was working for Hermitage Capital, an investment fund run by the US-born British businessman, William Browder, he gathered evidence that 60 Russian officials had defrauded Russian taxpayers of £147million.

Other members of his legal team fled Russia after receiving threats, but Magnitsky stayed, was arrested in 2008, and died the following year, aged 37, from the ill treatment he had suffered in prison.

Last week, the Tory MP Dominic Raab successfully pushed through the Commons a motion calling for anyone named by Magnitsky or involved in persecuting him to be barred form the UK. He was supported by no fewer than three former foreign secretaries – Malcolm Rifkind, Jack Straw and David Miliband – though not by the present government, which is concerned by the prospect of Russian retaliation.

Before the debate, the Russian ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, wrote to the Speaker, John Bercow, protesting that to blacklist named officials would deny them the basic right of a presumption of innocence until proved guilty.

Since then, the deputy head of the Russian Interior Ministry's investigations department, Alexander Yagodin, has denied that Magnitsky uncovered any tax fraud by anyone, which completely failed to convince 59 members of the Swedish Parliament who issued a call yesterday for sanctions against Russia. Undeterred, Mr Yagodin says the Russian will go ahead and try Mr Browder – whose grandfather, incidentally, ran the US communist party in the 1930s – and the dead Mr Magnitsky for tax evasion.

Defector mayor's taxing problem

Nothing annoys party politicians more than a defector, so when the Liberal Democrat Mayor of Eastleigh, Glynn Davies-Dear, walked out to form a new group, he risked the revenge of former colleagues. It took an unusual form. Drivers who put their vehicles through an MOT are entitled to drive to and from the test centre without a tax disc. Councillor Davies-Dear did that, but on his way home stopped off to take part in a parish council meeting. Three Liberal Democrats councillors followed him afterwards, filmed him, and reported him to the police and to the council's standards sub-committee. The committee has ticked him off. The police are taking no action. Councillor Davies-Dear has described his tormentors' action as "childish". Eastleigh Lib Dems do seem to have a problem with the rules of the road.

Attorney General's driving is offensive

And my colleague Susie Rushton, who by the way is heavily pregnant, had an annoying and potentially dangerous experience whilst driving through Hammersmith on Sunday morning. As she entered a mini roundabout, a people carrier shot out to her left, forcing her to move over so that it could turn right in front of her. The driver did not make eye contact, or attempt to apologise, but Susie and her husband had a good look at him as he went by. It was Dominic Grieve, who, as Attorney General, is the minister responsible for ensuring that we all obey the law.

Ed's a sweetie to his wife Justine

Yesterday we learnt a detail of the home life of Labour leader Ed Miliband that we never needed to know. His wife, Justine, below, "sometimes" calls him sweetie, but "generally" calls him Ed, he told a group of school children. When angry, "she still calls me Ed. She doesn't call me Edward or anything. She's a very patient person," he added.

Enough of that.

Suggested Topics
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam