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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before