Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman awarded £185k libel damages

Media group chairman wins libel claim against ARY News broadcaster over 'traitor' allegations; but loses harassment claim

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Chief Executive of Pakistan’s largest media group,  has been awarded £185,000 in libel damages by the High Court following the trial of his claim against the UK broadcaster of ARY News, ARY Network Ltd, and its Chief Operating Officer, Fayaz Ghafoor.

The claim related to 24 television programmes which made a series of false allegations against the Claimant, including that he was a traitor to his country and a blasphemer.  All of the Defendants’ defences were rejected: truth and opinion were struck out before trial, and various forms of qualified privilege failed at trial.  In his judgment, Sir David Eady said that the substantial award of damages “should be enough to convince any fair-minded observer of the baselessness of these serious charges.”

However, the claim for harassment, relating to a total of over 100 programmes, was rejected.  Although the Judge found the “persistent and unrelenting broadcasting campaign” to be “plainly oppressive, unreasonable and unacceptable”, he ruled that the tort was not established because the Claimant was not within the jurisdiction at the time of the broadcasts.

5RB‘s Matthew Nicklin QC and Richard Munden (instructed by Carter-Ruck) represented the Claimant; Desmond Browne QC and Jonathan Barnes (instructed by Gresham Legal) the Defendants.