Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

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Pushpinder Saini


HIGH COURT judge Pushpinder Saini has been making serious interventions, through his judgments, to tackle the abuse of the legal system. The 56-year-old judge, who sits in the King’s Bench Division, came down heavily against the ‘gratuitously offensive’ comments targeted at a solicitor from London firm Leigh Day, who was representing naturalist Chris Packham in a defamation case against an online publication. Highlighting a comment made by a defendant, Dominic Wightman, editor of Country Squire Magazine, against solicitor Tessa Gregory, about finding a handwriting expert ‘this side of Basra’, Justice Saini wrote in his May 2023 judgment: “Why Basra? This was a gratuitously offensive reference to the legal representation by Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day of Iraqi civilians in wholly unrelated litigation.” Noting that Packham’s case has nothing to do with Iraq or other clients of Gregory, Saini complimented the solicitor for acting with “exemplary professionalism and moderation” in the firm’s responses to this and a number of “other pieces of offensive correspondence” by Wightman about the representation of Iraqi civilians.

“One of the great assets of the British legal system and its respect for the rule of law is that solicitors and barristers are not to be equated with their clients, current or former. [Wightman’s] approach showed an ignorance of this,” he added, while ruling in favour of Packham, and awarding the television presenter £90,000 in damages. In January this year, he sentenced an online stalker who ran a five-year campaign against a circuit judge, Simon Oliver, to eight years.

The provocation has been the dismissal of an appeal from Javed Sheikh, a hospital worker, against a decision to add him to barred lists. Noting that his sentencing remarks could not “capture the horrendous nature” of what Sheikh said in the blog about Judge Oliver and his family, or

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