MOSCOW, July 10 (RIA Novosti) – The British parliament’s official record has been changed at the request of a minister, after the original record was interpreted by British media as suggesting that the UK had banned certain Russian officials from visiting the country.
The amendment to the record was requested by UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper, following a report in British newspaper the Daily Telegraph that the UK had issued visa bans for 60 Russian officials suspected of involvement in the 2009 death in custody of tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Moscow in a high-profile case.
The newspaper cited the parliamentary record for April 18, which reported Harper as saying, in response to a question about whether the officials accused of being involved in Magnitsky’s death had visited the UK, that the “Home Office Special Cases Directorate is already aware of the individuals on the list and has taken the necessary measures to prevent them being issued visas for travel to the UK.”
A ministerial correction published on July 9 said the “correct answer” should have been: “We are aware that some individuals have been linked to the arrest, detention and death of Sergei Magnitsky. Any application for a visa to come to the UK will be considered on the individual merits of the case in line with our usual practice.”
Magnitsky, an auditor and tax lawyer working for British investment fund Hermitage Capital in Russia, was arrested in 2008 on tax evasion charges after exposing what he said was a $230 million tax fraud carried out by Russian officials. He spent the next 12 months in pre-trial detention, and died in disputed circumstances in 2009. Russian prosecutors opened a criminal case against Magnitsky and Hermitage boss William Browder – the first time in Russian legal history the state had tried to prosecute a dead man. Prosecutors asked the courts on July 3 to drop the case against Magnitsky.
In April, the United States released the so-called Magnitsky List, naming 18 Russians banned from entering the United States or holding assets there. The question asked in the UK parliament referred to an earlier draft of the list, which comprised 60 names.