Roman Polanski probably won’t get his day in court after all. The helmer was told Tuesday that he cannot give evidence in his U.K. libel suit against Vanity Fair magazine by video link from France.
Polanski cannot travel to London to testify in person because of extradition treaties between the United Kingdom and the United States, where he still faces sentencing following a 1977 conviction for statutory rape.
Polanski, 69, is seeking damages from Conde Nast Publications over a July 2002 story in Vanity Fair, claiming that he tried to seduce a young Swedish woman two days after his wife Sharon Tate was murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969. The trial was scheduled to start Monday in London’s High Court.
Lord Justice Simon Brown, sitting in the Court of Appeal with Lord Justice Jonathan Parker and Lord Justice Thomas, overturned an earlier decision that Polanski could give evidence from France, where he now lives with his actress wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, according to a report on the BBC’s Web site.
Polanski has not set foot in the U.K since 1977 when he fled the U.S. following his conviction. (For his British costume drama “Tess,” the helmer was forced to re-create the British countryside in Normandy.)
Polanski had filed the libel suit in the U.K. 11 months ago hoping the rape conviction would be dropped before his Vanity Fair suit got under way.
During opening arguments earlier this month, he testified from his Paris hotel room that he hoped the California district attorney would forgive the crime so he could return to the U.S. to accept his director’s Oscar for “The Pianist.”
He is not suing in America, even though Vanity Fair is essentially a U.S. publication, because the country has different libel laws and those suing have to prove “actual malice” to prevail.
What Polanski will do next is unclear. However, if he does not appear in court, he may have to pay for both his and Vanity Fair’s trial expenses for what the London court calls discontinuance.