Outstanding Geo TV and The Information Worldwide newspaper’s London reporter Murtaza Ali Shah and his journalist brother have received a significant defamation case on the UK Excessive Courtroom over false and malicious allegations made about them in a press launch which was broadly revealed on social media together with on WhatsApp.
In one of many first few circumstances in Britain referring to defamation by way of social media platforms particularly WhatsApp and Twitter, the UK Excessive Courtroom’s Senior Choose Mrs Justice Collins Rice dominated that Murtaza Ali Shah, a reporter for Geo Information/The Information and Every day Jang from London, and Mujtaba Ali Shah, a Hum TV reporter in London, had been defamed by solicitor Ajaz Ahmed, his legislation agency Pure Authorized Solicitors and Raja Usman Arshad, son of Raja Arshad who has been convicted of killing British Pakistani nationwide barrister Fahad Malik.
Mrs Justice Collins Rice additionally awarded authorized prices and £75000 in damages to each Murtaza Ali Shah and Mujtaba Ali Shah. Particularly, Murtaza Ali Shah was focused with pretend and photoshopped information wherein harmful and false allegations had been revealed. He’s arguably probably the most well-known Pakistani reporter in Britain with over half 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. He’s recognized for breaking a number of the largest tales for Pakistani media from London during the last decade or so.
The authorized battle began after a press convention held in London on fifth January 2019 by the legislation agency Pure Authorized Solicitors, its director and solicitor Ajaz Ahmed and Raja Usman Arshad in regards to the 2016 homicide in Islamabad of British-Pakistani barrister Fahad Malik. In the beginning of the press convention on fifth January, a gaggle of round two dozen protestors disrupted the press convention making accusations towards Raja Usman Arshad and the legislation agency for trying to cowl up the homicide of Fahad Malik and offering a fig leaf to the homicide accused Raja Arshad.
Within the following days, Ajaz Ahmed and Raja Usman used WhatsApp and social media platforms to make a number of patently false, defamatory and critical allegations towards the journalists accusing them of orchestrating the assault on behalf of Jawad Sohrab Malik, the brother of Fahad Malik. A number of different allegations had been additionally made within the harmful marketing campaign.
The defamatory press launch, which was disseminated in each English and Urdu, alleged that the 2 journalists had been the ringleaders of violent dysfunction on the Central London press convention organised by Raja Usman Arshad for his father who was in Adiala Jail at the moment. It was additional alleged that the journalists disrupted and hijacked the press convention and violently assaulted, harassed and intimidated individuals who attended. None of this was true however because of these false and abhorrent allegations the journalists, particularly Murtaza Ali Shah, had been attacked and hurt was induced to them and their relations.
The journalists instantly instructed legal professionals who despatched pre-action letters after which issued proceedings on the Royal Courts of Justice on sixth January 2020.
In the beginning of the case Ajaz Ahmed, Raja Usman Arshad and Merseyside-based Pure Authorized Solicitors Restricted collectively defended the case by means of solicitors’ agency Kingswell Watts Solicitors who submitted a defence on behalf of their shoppers. Legal professionals for the journalists made an software to strike out the defences of reality, sincere opinion and assertion on a matter of public Curiosity on the grounds they had been defectively pleaded and had been profitable. The defendants then filed an extra amended defence however the journalists’ legal professionals utilized for components of the amended defence to be struck out for non-compliance with the foundations and had been profitable once more.
Raja Usman Arshad stopped participating with the London Excessive Courtroom orders and procedures when he returned to Pakistan and Kingswell Watts Solicitors additionally didn’t reply because the case progressed.
At one stage through the proceedings, Excessive Courtroom Choose Mr Justice Nicklin who’s answerable for defamation circumstances on the Excessive Courtroom acquired concerned and made an order wherein he acknowledged: “There seems to be a historical past of non-compliance and non-engagement by the Defendants. If that continues, they are going to discover that sanctions will probably be Imposed to their drawback”.
On the trial earlier than Excessive Courtroom Choose Mrs Justice Collins Rice, the journalists’ legal professionals made additional functions in search of strike out of the whole defence and a debarring order on which they had been profitable. Mrs Justice Collins Rice additionally dominated that the 2 claimants had been defamed: The Honourable choose stated: “I’m glad on the premise of my preliminary and provisional views that what’s pleaded by the Claimants on pure and bizarre that means is neither ‘wildly extravagant and unattainable’, nor ‘clearly not defamatory of their tendency’ given the accusations of violence.” The choose discovered that the take a look at for critical hurt to repute had been met.
The Choose condemned the conduct of Ajaz Ahmed, Pure Authorized Solicitors and Raja Usman Arshad as “oppressive” and stuffed with “constant failures”. She wrote: “The Defendants’ conduct of this litigation has been characterised by persistent failure to interact correctly and pretty with guidelines of process, and by a number of and critical failures to adjust to the Orders and Instructions of the Courtroom. The Defendants have been given repeated alternatives to re-establish their participation within the litigation on a passable footing and to organize for a good trial of the declare, however haven’t acknowledged and brought these alternatives. Nor have they provided any good cause for failing to take action. They’ve been given clear and repeated warnings of the jeopardy that that locations them in.”
“This course of conduct has been wasteful of court docket time and public sources, and wholly unfair to the Claimants. It has denied them the chance to make out their case for vindication in a well timed method. The impact on the Claimants is subsequently extremely prejudicial. It has additionally not solely escalated the price of these proceedings in an unwarranted method, however stored the Claimants out of funds to which they’re clearly entitled by Order. I’m glad that the Claimants’ case is correctly pleaded.”
Ajaz Ahmed and Pure Authorized Solicitors had utilized on the final minute to vacate the trial. Mr Ahmed’s son, Adam Ahmed, gave a written assertion wherein he steered an affiliate of his father had given his father Unlawful substances which have had a critical consequence for his psychological well being and interfered along with his compliance with the court docket orders. Adam Ahmed claimed that his father had tried suicide by taking an overdose of 14 x 200mg ibuprofen with intent to finish his life and was on the Royal Blackburn Hospital within the Psychological Well being Pressing Evaluation Centre.
The journalists’ legal professionals challenged the proof. Mrs Justice Collins Rice, while expressing sympathy for Ajaz Ahmed, declined the appliance because the proof earlier than her was not passable.
Ajaz Ahmed, Raja Usman Arshad and Pure Authorized Solicitors didn’t attraction the ruling by Mrs Justice Collins Rice made in July 2022. Consequently, the legal professionals for the journalists obtained charging orders on two properties wherein Ajaz Ahmed had an curiosity. The legal professionals will probably be making use of individually for restoration of authorized prices which have already run into 6 figures. They may also be in search of orders on the market in order that the properties may be bought and the fairness launched to pay in the direction of the damages and authorized prices.
Barrister Mr David Lemer who represented the 2 journalists on the trial stated: “I’m glad that Murtaza Ali Shah and Mujtaba Ali Shah have been ready to reach their claims for defamation and that these long-standing proceedings have been dropped at an finish.”
The journalists welcomed the court docket determination: “We stand vindicated and we’re grateful to our authorized workforce, Stone White Solicitors, Counsel William Bennett KC and Counsel David Lemer and to the Courtroom for upholding the reality. We confronted malicious and false allegations and it took us over three years to get justice however we continued to struggle the case to ascertain that there ought to be no place and tolerance for defamation of any sort. Our lives had been put in danger by means of these allegations.”
They stated in an announcement: “This case highlights the harassment, false allegations and threats that journalists face each day merely for doing their job. Latest occasions globally have highlighted the private danger that journalists place themselves in while they play a important function in selling democracy by sustaining the free movement of knowledge. Makes an attempt to silence journalists with threats, assaults and in some circumstances assassinations proceed at an alarming fee, particularly with the rise of social media.”