More than 950 passengers were travelling on board the ship when it was targeted, with 280 people being killed.

The silver was sold by the government of India to be turned into coins for South Africa and Egypt.

Over 70 years later Argentum – which takes advantage of improvements in technology to explore previously inaccessible wrecks – found the ship 2.5km (4 miles) below the surface and spent six months retrieving the silver.

According to Companies House, Argentum Exploration Ltd is majority owned by Sir Paul, who was a leading investor in GB News when it launched in 2021. Last month he stepped down from the board of the broadcaster’s parent company amid reports that he was preparing a bid for The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

When the silver was brought to Southampton, Argentum declared it to Receiver of Wreck, a government official responsible for identifying and trying to trace the ownership of any artefacts from the seabed in UK waters – or brought into the country from elsewhere.

It was at this point South Africa claimed ownership of the silver, but Argentum said that as the salvor, it is entitled to claim payment for the salvage.

Maritime law allows salvors to make payment claims, regardless of whether the owner of the property asked for it to be salvaged or not. In this case, South Africa did not ask for Argentum to retrieve the silver.

Claims can either be made towards the item’s owner or Argentum’s case “in rem”, which means a right to arrest the property in question.

Both the UK Court of Appeal and High Court ruled in favour of Argentum’s claim, despite South Africa claiming immunity as a sovereign state.

South Africa then took the case to the Supreme Court, with the argument hinging on whether the silver was to be used for “commercial purposes” at the time of the sinking, which Argentum claimed it was.

According to South Africa, the silver was not being used for commercial use, which the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with.

This decision from the Supreme Court means that South Africa is immune from Argentums claim against the silver.