Michael McLaren QC and Paul Sinclair have been appearing successfully in the House of Lords for Eli Calil, allegedly the “mastermind” and principal funder of the alleged attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. This matter has been much in the news lately, as a result of the unlawful extradition of ex-SAS Briton Simon Mann from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea and his subsequent “trial” in Equatorial Guinea.

The high profile English action brought by the President of Equatorial Guinea and the State of Equatorial Guinea against various alleged conspirators (including Eli Calil and Simon Mann) has been successfully thwarted at every step. The Claimants’ legal team was led by Sir Sydney Kentridge QC. At first instance, Michael McLaren QC and Paul Sinclair struck out almost all of the case, successfully arguing that the Claimants had no cause of action because of the requirement of actionability in unlawful means conspiracy. The Claimants’ appeal to the Court of Appeal failed and the action was totally struck out, on the basis that the claim was not justiciable in the English courts. The Claimants appealed further to the House of Lords.

Just before the hearing commenced in the House of Lords in February 2008, Simon Mann was unlawfully removed from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea in circumstances described by Lord Malloch-Brown in Parliament as “completely in contravention of Zimbabwe’s own legal standards and system”. On the 4th day of the appeal, the House of Lords refused to continue the hearing until the Claimants, who had been holding Simon Mann incommunicado, enabled him to communicate with his English legal team. On the appeal’s return to the House of Lords on 26th June 2008, shortly after the so-called “trial” of Simon Mann in Equatorial Guinea, Michael McLaren QC and Paul Sinclair were poised to make an application in the House of Lords to strike out the appeal because of the Claimants’ conduct towards Simon Mann and the unfairness of any future trial. In the event, however, the Claimants chose to withdraw their appeal and thereby abandon their English action.