March 1, 2011
Sikh leader’s appeal dismissed
Libel claimant failed to lodge £250,000 security
The Court of Appeal today dismissed the appeal by a libel claimant with the title, His Holiness Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj, following his failure to pay security ordered in the sum of £250,000.
The Appellant was ordered, on 1 February 2011, to lodge £250,000 in court or his appeal due to be heard on 28 February or 1 March, before a court including the Master of the Rolls, would be dismissed. He failed to lodge the money and his solicitors, Ford and Warren, applied to come off the record. That application was considered by Sedley LJ who directed on 21 February that they could come off the record and listed the appeal with a very short time allocation on 28 February with notice that the Respondent’s solicitors did not need to attend.
That short, formal hearing brought to an end Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj’s libel action which began in 2007 in respect of an article published by Eastern Media Group in The Sikh Times and written by Mr Hardeep Singh Sahota. EMG settled in 2008 and the case proceeded to trial against Mr Sahota in May 2010. On the first day of the trial, Eady J ordered a stay of the action on the basis that the subject- matter was non-justiciable. The Judge refused permission to appeal, as did Laws LJ on paper. On a renewed application, where it was conceded that Eady J’s judgment was substantially correct, Smith LJ gave permission to appeal in part.
On 1 February 2011 Hardeep Singh applied for an order for security for the costs of the appeal and below. The Court of Appeal (Sedley and Pitchford LLJ) read a letter from Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj’s solicitors, Ford and Warren, setting out that they did not have instructions for the application or the appeal and were applying to come off the record. The Court considered that it was just in this case to order security against this appellant, who lives in India, having regard to the difficulties of enforcing any costs order in India, the length of time it could take to enforce and the merits of the appeal.