Mosque dispute claimants awarded £45,000 each

Fourth Defendant found to have defamed the claimants by causing publication on a website and distributing a dossier of documents

Judgment has been given by Mr Justice Jeremy Baker in Asghar & Mujahid v Ahmad, Ali, Bhutt and Hayat.  The Claimants succeeded in proving that they had been defamed by the Fourth Defendant, Mr Hayat, on a website and by his publication of a dossier of defamatory documents.  His qualified privilege defence failed and, in any event, he was found to have been actuated by malice in making the publications complained of.  The Claimants have been awarded £45,000 in damages each in regard to those publications.  They also complained that they had been defamed by the publication of a leaflet at a meeting.  However, it was found that whilst the leaflet was defamatory and was distributed during the meeting, it was not proven that the Defendants were responsible for this publication.

The trial was heard without a jury and lasted 10 days over two periods in July and December 2014.  It had to be adjourned in July 2014 due to the ill-health of Mr Hayat.

The libel claim arose from a dispute over the control of the Jamia and Al Noor mosques in Newport, South Wales. The First Claimant, Mr Asghar, is a member of the Welsh Assembly and a member of the Conservative Party. The Second Claimant, Mr Mujahid, was involved in the management of the two mosques.

The Claimants were previously awarded £45,000 in libel damages each in regard to similar allegations published in Nawa-i-Jang, which claims to be the most widely read Urdu newspaper in the jurisdiction.

5RB’s William Bennett was counsel for the Claimants and acted on a direct access basis.