Since 2020 Amersi has retained Carter-Ruck to write to a diverse range of recipients: newspapers (including the Economist), the BBC, current and former MPs, a think-tank, a leading British university and unaffiliated individuals have all received letters from the firm on his behalf. It is not known how much Amersi has spent pursuing his critics, but estimates suggest it could stray into the millions of pounds. (Amersi told TBIJ that he had “no choice but to try to correct … numerous falsehoods and inaccuracies” that had been told about him.)
Charlotte Leslie, a former British MP, has faced two consecutive lawsuits from Amersi for circulating memos raising concerns about his credentials: the first a data-protection claim, the second a libel suit. Both failed, and the judge presiding over the libel case was excoriating: “Subjecting a person to successive civil claims can be a hallmark of abusive conduct,” Mr Justice Nicklin wrote, and struck out the libel claim in full. Amersi tried to appeal the judgment, and was denied. “When a rich man wants to silence and destroy someone, they go to the courts,” concluded David Davis, a Conservative MP, in remarks to parliament. (Amersi told TBIJ Davis had “abused the sacred right of parliamentary privilege”, and that the judges’ rejection of his claims was “a travesty of justice”.)
Carter-Ruck even went as far as to track down Michaela Ahlberg, a Swedish business-ethics adviser who had given an interview to the BBC and the Guardian about a deal Amersi advised on.
Telia, a Swedish telecoms group, hired Ahlberg after a bribery scandal. When the BBC and the Guardian, working together on an investigation into the deal, asked Ahlberg for comment, she thought carefully about what she said. She is adamant that she didn’t accuse Amersi of corruption, but said that the deal – rather than Amersi himself – was corrupt. She also said that references to potential wrongdoing by a “Mr XY” mentioned in an independent law firm’s review of Telia’s compliance procedures did indeed refer to Amersi. (Amersi adamantly denies any involvement in or knowledge of wrongdoing at Telia and has not been named in the US Department of Justice’s investigation into corruption there.)
Two months after the interview aired, towards the end of 2021, Ahlberg received a letter from Carter-Ruck accusing her of making “appalling allegations”, and saying that she had “distorted … the facts” and caused “serious harm and distress” to its client, Amersi. It concluded with a clear threat to sue. “I really felt my heart racing,” Ahlberg recalled over a video call from her home in Gothenburg. “I didn’t know [British libel law] was so different [from Sweden’s].”
A City of London law firm agreed to represent her pro bono. It responded to the threat briefly but firmly: Ahlberg would not be retracting her comments. Subsequent letters escalated the attack on her credentials, integrity and motives: “Either your client did not carry out her role at Telia with reasonable care and skill,” one read, “or she chose deliberately and maliciously to cause damage to our client by making defamatory statements about him which she knew to be false.” Eventually the letters ended.
Amersi, who is currently suing the BBC over the programme in which Ahlberg’s comments appeared, told TBIJ: “I remind you that the individual made defamatory allegations about me … in the full knowledge that they would be broadcast to millions of people. I am entitled to enforce my legal rights.” (The BBC stands by its story.)
Ahlberg was bewildered by the experience. “If it is not possible to … talk about red flags, so that people can judge for themselves what they think, then the UK is in terrible trouble.”