Rahman libel trial commences

Sir David Eady hearing two week trial of claim over ARY News broadcasts

The trial of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s libel and harassment claim against ARY Network Ltd, the UK broadcaster of Urdu news channel ARY News, and its Chief Operating Officer, Fayaz Ghafoor, begins today in the High Court.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, head of the Jang Group of media companies, complains of 24 broadcasts as being libellous and a total of 103 as harassment.

Last year Haddon-Cave J determined the meaning of the programmes complained of in libel, and whether they were fact or comment. Delivering a 79-page judgment ([2015] EWHC 2917 (QB)), the Judge ruled that “a recurrent theme of the broadcasts is that the Claimant is a traitor to Pakistan.”

Last week Sir David Eady, sitting as a High Court Judge, struck out a total of 26 defences of justification/truth and honest comment/opinion (the claims relating to programmes both before and after the coming into force of the Defamation Act 2013). The trial, listed for 2 weeks, is being heard by the same judge.

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