Commenting on the occupation of a Russian oligarch’s mansion by activists, Professor Len Shackleton, economist at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“The news that protestors have seized the London home of Oleg Deripaska, one of the sanctioned oligarchs, will be welcomed by many. However, it ought to give us pause.
“The government’s freezing of the assets of those believed to be associated with Vladimir Putin is a distinct break with Britain’s traditional support for property rights, one of the reasons why so many foreign nationals have come to live and work here. It is not a commitment which should be abandoned lightly.
“The vast majority of such people have not made fortunes by dubious means and are no danger to us: many have made major contributions to British life. A government which seizes property without clear and testable grounds is not a good advertisement for the rule of law.
“Seizure of oligarchs’ property may be justified in current circumstances, but this should be tested through the courts. Foolish remarks by Michael Gove about hasty and impractical schemes to house refugees in Mayfair properties may have encouraged protesters to break into Mr Deripaska’s house. The government should make it clear that this is not the way to proceed.”
Notes to editors
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