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
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

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?