Holy Man to appeal libel action against journalist

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor


A holy man who tried to sue a jouranlist which said he was an impostor is to renew his appeal application after a decision to strike out his claim.

Justice Eady struck out his Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj’s libel claim in May and refused permission to appeal the decision.

However, an application to renew the appeal before the Court of Appeal remained open.

He had attempted to sue freelance journalist Hardeep Singh over an article which appeared in The Sikh Times in August 2007.

The libel claim suggested that the article alleged he was the leader of a cult and an impostor who had disturbed the peace in the Sikh community of High Wycombe and promoted blasphemy and the sexual exploitation and abuse of women.

Justice Eady struck the case out on 17th May 2010 – the day the trial was scheduled to have started – accepting submissions on behalf of Singh that the courts could not deal with the case because of the well established principle of English law that the court will not attempt to rule on doctrinal issues or intervene in the regulation of governance of religious groups.

The judge said it would appear that issues of a religious or doctrinal nature permeated the pleadings in the case.

He was, he said, “driven to the conclusion” that the issues in the case could not be adapted so as to get round the insuperable obstacle that the court had to refrain from determining issues which were at the heart of the case.

Lord Justice Laws rejected an application for permission to appeal which was made on paper on July 13, holding that Mr Justice Eady’s decision was correct for the reasons he had given.

Nick Collins, head of litigation at Leeds-based law firm Ford and Warren, which is representing the claimant, said the application was being renewed, and would be dealt with at an oral hearing at the Court of Appeal in October.