Leading Arabic newspaper wins libel damages

Publisher and journalists awarded £85,000

The London publisher of  the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat and two of its senior editorial staff were awarded libel damages on Wednesday totalling £85,000 against the editor of a website which falsely accused them of accepting secret payments of US $4 million in return for publishing interviews with the former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani

HH Saudi Research and Marketing (UK) Limited was awarded £20,000 in libel damages whilst the editor in chief of Asharq Al Awsat, Mr Tariq Al-Homayed received an award of £30,000 and the senior journalist Maad Fayad, £35,000. The Defendant was ordered to pay £40,000 in costs.

Master Roberts, assessing damages after judgment had been entered in default of acknowledgement of service, described the allegations published on kurdistanpost.com as “extremely serious” and said that they struck at the core of the reputations of the Claimants. He accepted evidence which demonstrated the falsity of the Defendant’s claims that the Claimants had compromised fundamental principles of journalistic independence and integrity.

Speaking after the judgment the Claimants’ representative Adel Ellithy said: “Such was the absolute falsity of these allegations that we had no hesitation in bringing these proceedings to protect the good name of our company and our journalists. We prize our reputation extremely highly and are very glad that the Judge has made awards which properly reflect the damage and distress caused to the Claimants by the wholly fictional claims posted on this website.”

5RB’s Jacob Dean, instructed by Carter-Ruck, acted for the Claimants