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Sacha Baron Cohen and Showtime have persuaded a judge to transfer a $95 million defamation claim by former Alabama judge and politician Roy Moore over an episode of the series Who is America from Washington to New York.

Moore ran for the Senate in 2017 but was unsuccessful after The Washington Post told the stories of six women who said Moore pursued them when he was a local prosecutor and they were teenagers. Moore denied any wrongdoing.

When making Who is America, Baron Cohen, in the persona of Israeli anti-terrorism expert “Erran Morad”, invited Moore to Washington, purportedly to receive an award for his support of Israel.

Cohen’s Morad claimed to have an Israeli-developed paedophile detecting machine, which then beeped as he waved it over Moore.

“It must be faulty. It’s malfunctioning,” Cohen said, asking “Is this your jacket? Did you lend the jacket to somebody else?”

Moore eventually walked out of the interview.

His legal claim alleges that he “suffered extreme emotional distress” for “being falsely portrayed as a sex offender and paedophile.”

However, a Judge has now allowed Baron Cohen and Showtime to rely on a forum selection clause in a consent agreement that Moore had signed in connection with his appearance on Who is America, which stipulated that disputes would be adjudicated in New York.

Moore’s lawyers had argued that the consent agreement was void due to fraud arising from misrepresentations surrounding the circumstances of Moore’s appearance in the programme.

The Judge found that Moore had not specifically claimed he was defrauded into agreeing to the forum selection clause.

Cohen’s lawyer pointed the Judge to the fact that his client had won on the same issue in a lawsuit brought over his movie Borat, where a case issued in Alabama was moved to a federal court in Manhattan because of a forum selection clause.

Moore’s lawyer indicated that he intends to appeal the case’s transfer. His statement said that “no matter where the case is ultimately heard, we are confident that Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS will be held legally accountable by a jury for their low class, disgusting and malicious defamatory acts to harm a good man and his family.”

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