A Sicilian businessman is suing shipping firm Lloyd & Co for £2m over its conduct of litigation on his behalf while he was imprisoned for the murder of his wife. Giuseppe Di Blasi, who has given evidence by videolink from Italy, where he is under house arrest during the ongoing High Court trial, originally instructed Lloyd & Co in his action against Italian shipowner and salvor Battista Murri. At the time he was imprisoned in South Africa for fatally gunning down his wife, the celebrated artist Francesca Gobbi. To much public uproar Di Blasi was released in 1998 after serving only five years of a 15-year sentence. During his sentence, and while he was on a hunger strike, Nelson Mandela turned down a request for Di Blasis early release. The High Court has heard that Di Blasis action against Murri, who has operations in Italy and Mombasa in Kenya, related to a joint venture in two shipping lines and contains issues as to whether the ships used by the lines were part of the joint venture. This action, which took place in 1996, was struck out and the £2m Lloyd & Co is being sued for relates to Di Blasis alleged lost chance as a result of this failed action. Other issues in the current case relate to whether Di Blasi would have been able to fund the previous litigation and whether he was mentally fit to give evidence (including video evidence) as he was incarcerated at the time. Christopher Symons QC, head of 3 Verulam Buildings, who is acting for Lloyd & Co, is also arguing in the current four-day action, due to finish today (8 April), that Di Blasis case against Murri would have been worthless without his evidence. Furthermore, even had he given evidence, his claim was only worth several hundred thousand dollars. The High Court will have to consider the value of the loss of chance allegedly suffered by Di Blasi as a result of his case being struck out.