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Friday Jan 22 2021

Who is Barrister Zafar Ali QC?

Barrister Zafar Ali QC. — Photo provided by author

A British-Pakistani lawyer is at the centre of the Broadsheet scandal that has exploded on Pakistani media scene after The News and Geo exclusively took off the lid from various key aspects of the case that has cost Pakistan over $65 million.

This publication had revealed in May 2019 the name of Barrister Zafar Ali QC for the first time, stating that the British-Pakistani defence counsel had held meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Shahzad Akbar, Asad Umar and various other top officials to discuss the possibility of a new deal to trace the alleged stolen assets of Pakistan.

The News had published contents of what’s now known as the “Moussavi document”, naming Dr Kersten Pucks, Zafar Ali QC and Shaid Iqbal, a solicitor of England & Wales, who had met Broadsheet CEO Kaveh Moussavi prior to Ali and Iqbal’s meeting with Imran Khan and his senior cabinet colleagues. Nearly two years later, they are in news after this publication released a “declaration of facts” prepared by the lawyers of Mr Ali, Mr Iqbal and Mr Pucks, countering assertions and claims made by the Broadsheet CEO’s law firm and Kaveh Moussavi himself during interviews.

Last year, Zafar Ali QC represented the brother of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi who had killed 22 people in the 2017 terror attack. His other famous case is RV Mohd Al- Khaib. The defendant was charged with honour killing but found not guilty. His next case is a gang murder trial with 5 defendants in the Liverpool Crown Court which starts in March.

According to his chamber’s website, Zafar Ali QC is a “highly experienced defence advocate, international arbitrator and mediator with a military background”. According to the record available with the Bar Council of England and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), Zafar Ali QC attended a diploma course in International Commercial Arbitration in September 2013 at the Jesus College Oxford. The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators gave him certificate of membership and was admitted as a fellow of the institute on April 18, 2016.

The Bar Council gave him a “Certificate of Good Standing” in October 2012. Zafar Ali was called to the bar by the Society of Middle Temple in November 1994 and was appointed as the Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2012 after completing full pupilage. He has read Politics and International Relations at the Warwick University as BA (Hons). He did Diploma of Law from the City University.

Solicitor Shaid Iqbal runs his criminal defence law firm called “Alexander Cousins” in Leeds. He has a good reputation. In dealing with white collar and money-laundering criminal cases, his firm recently represented terrorism suspect Sultan Muhammad at the Central Criminal Court and received £3.5 from the government in legal aid. Dr Pucks is a senior multi-millionaire consultant based in Oxford.

Kaveh Moussavi has stressed that he met them on their request but realised that they were trying to obtain information out of him to make money. On their part, the trio said they met Kaveh Moussavi to assess if he has any concrete information about the looted money or just claims and ceased contact with him when they realised there was nothing.

However, text exchanges show that both sides remained in contact for several months till they fell out as no deal was made and no progress could materialise with the government.

Originally published in The News