In the Media

Tycoon 'cannot fight ?6m claim'

PUBLISHED June 13, 2006

Nicholas van Hoogstraten cannot defend himself against a ?6m claim brought by the family of murder victim Mohammed Raja, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Lightman said it was because of the property tycoon's role in the murder of the 62-year-old man.

Mr Raja was suing Mr van Hoogstraten over a business deal when he was shot dead at his south London home in 1999.

Last year, the High Court ruled that the East Sussex millionaire "recruited two dangerous thugs" to murder Mr Raja.

At the time, the court heard the murder had been instigated to stop Mr Raja suing the tycoon.

On Monday, the High Court judge said Mr van Hoogstraten's responsibility for the murder meant he had to take the "draconian" step of striking out his defence.

Mr Justice Lightman said: "No greater challenge to the administration of justice and no greater perversion of the course of justice can be conceived than the murder of the opposing party to obtain an advantage in the litigation.

"It is conduct which no court, with its necessary concern for the administration of justice, can tolerate."

Assets frozen

He ordered Mr van Hoogstraten to pay a preliminary ?282,000 in costs to solicitors for the Raja family within two weeks.

Mr van Hoogstraten, 60, of Uckfield, left open to the ?6m claim by Mr Raja's family and more than ?1.5m in legal costs, told the judge he would not pay.

He said: "You may make an order for payment on account, but as I have stated publicly and previously, they are not going to get a penny."

Mr Raja's killers, Robert Knapp and David Croke, are serving life for murder.

The multi-millionaire was cleared in the criminal courts of the killing, but then faced the ?6m civil damages claim from Mr Raja's family and estate.

Assets of his amounting to ?5m have been frozen by the High Court.