Polanski in the Lords

Director appeals CA refusal of video link evidence

The Franco-Polish film director Roman Polanski began his appeal yesterday against a decision refusing him permission to give his evidence in a forthcoming libel action via video link from France.


Last November, the Court of Appeal reversed a decision of Eady J allowing Polanski to use video conferencing to give his evidence in his action against Vanity Fair. The Appeal Court held that because in the eyes of the American court he was a fugitive from justice it would not be right to allow him to use a video link where the reason for his refusal to come and give evidence in person was because he feared being arrested and deported to the US.


The Vanity Fair article suggested that whilst en route to the funeral of his wife, Sharon Tate, Polanski had propositioned a woman in a restaurant in New York. Polanski denies that the incident ever happened and has sued publishers Condé Nast for libel.

English law does not recognise the concept of an “outlaw” and Polanski’s lawyers will argue before the Lords that to deny him the opportunity to give his evidence in the libel claim by video link will deprive him of his right to a fair trial. Condé Nast contend that it would be an affront to justice to allow a fugitive to litigate in this country.

Argument is expected to be completed today and judgment will be reserved.

Mr Polanski’s junior counsel in the appeal is Justin Rushbrooke of 5RB.

5RB‘s Matthew Nicklin was interviewed about the case by Radio 4’s Law in Action on Friday 19 November 2004.