The High Court in London has today granted Indian national His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj the right to appeal in his libel case against journalist Hardeep Singh.

Singh was sued by His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj, the head of a fringe Sikh religious institution, for an article published in the Sikh Times in 2007. The piece written by Singh called Jeet Singh "an accused cult leader" and alleged that his teachings were not in line with mainstream Sikh doctrine.

The case was thrown out by Justice Eady in May 2010, who ruled for a permanent stay with no right to appeal. In May Singh said the case had already cost him "in excess of £90,000".

Today's hearing was heard by Lady Justice Smith. A written application for appeal was refused by Justice Laws on 30 July 2010.

"The case highlights flagrant abuse of Britain's libel laws and reinforces London's reputation as the world's libel capital. The appeal by 'His Holiness' further reinforces my view that rich and powerful claimants can afford to drag reporters through extremely painful and protracted court battles. Where does this leave the average man on the street?" Hardeep Singh says in a release from Index on Censorship, which is one of three groups involved in a campaign to reform existing libel legislation in the UK, issued before today's hearing.

"How can an extremely wealthy Indian national who has never stepped foot in the UK and has no ties to this country, launch proceedings against a British citizen who has simply written an article that offers a view on his interpretation of the Sikh religion? Surely this demonstrates the absurd nature of libel law in this country."

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