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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Ban lifted on 'Indecent Proposal' case
Brian Maccaba (centre) leaves the High Court
Mr Maccaba vehemently denies the allegations

A slander case centring on allegations a wealthy businessman from London offered a man $1m for his wife can be reported in full.

A High Court judge lifted reporting restrictions on the case, to be heard in full in May, which has already generated considerable press interest and comparisons to the 1993 movie Indecent Proposal.

Brian Maccaba, 45, a married father from Hendon, north London and the founder of a technology firm, is suing rabbi Dayan Yaakov Lichtenstein.

The case centres on accusations Rabbi Lichtenstein spread sexual smears about Mr Maccaba after the businessman allegedly offered husband Alan Attar $1m (621,000) to let wife Nathalie spend the rest of her life with him.

Clive Freedman QC, representing Mr Maccaba, said it would be "harmful" for a reporting ban on a ruling by High Court judge, Mr Justice Morland, in December to continue as it "encouraged a distortion in the press coverage of the matter".

Mr Freedman said it was a distortion "which ends up with our case being reported in a rather one-sided manner".

Solicitor Martin Cruddace, for the rabbi, said allowing reporting of Mr Justice Morland's judgment could enable the press to be "fed" with matters from it "that could rubbish my client".

Rabbi Lichtenstein, who is the senior judge in the Beth Din, or rabbinical court, of the Federation of Synagogues, denies making slanderous comments.

'Campaign of slander'

Lifting the ban, Mr Justice Eady said he was happy that if the case was heard by a jury they would look at all of the evidence and not be swayed by inaccurate reporting.

During Tuesday's preliminary hearing Mr Freedman said Mr Maccaba had suffered a "campaign of slander" from the rabbi over allegations he "vehemently denied".

But Mr Cruddace said there was an allegation against the rabbi of attempted bribery, which was "hotly disputed".

The allegation, referred to in Mr Justice Morland's ruling, which can now be reported, was that the defendant attempted to solicit a bribe in return for the conferral upon another rabbi of the title of Dayan (Jewish judge).

Mr Cruddace also said Mrs Attar, who is eight and a half months pregnant, was an orthodox Jew who was "horrified" by the press attention to date.

She and her husband are understood to now be in Israel.

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The rabbi feels his livelihood is under threat"


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