Thursday Sep 23, 2021
LONDON: Newly-appointed Vice-Chairman of Overseas Pakistanis Commission (OPC) Punjab Makhdoom Tariq Mahmood-ul-Hassan has initiated a legal claim against PTI East of England’s Senior Vice-President Muhammad Saif Chaudhry for defaming him through a social media video post.
On September 18— two days before Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar had notified Hassan as the OPC’s new vice-chairman — audio and video made by Chaudhry circulated on Whatsapp groups, in which he had levelled serious allegations of fraud and wrongdoing against Hassan.
Chaudhry made ten allegations of serious nature in the video, saying that Hassan is corrupt, he was expelled from the OPC due to corruption, demanded and offered bribes, orchestrated the defeat of a PTI candidate in the council elections in Pakistan, was a parachute in PTI who was abusing his role, and that CM Buzdar had de-notified him once due to misconduct in public office.
Hassan’s lawyers have maintained in the legal letter that all allegations and meanings are seriously defamatory to the new vice-chairman of the OPC.
“There is no truth to the allegations you make whatsoever, and no other potential legal justification for their publication,” the letter said.
It mentions that Hassan is a respected PTI worker, analyst, and a celebrated public figure who has served as the coordinator for Punjab's governor for overseas and religious affairs, member of a number of distinguished global think tanks, including the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Royal Commonwealth Society, Chatham House, and President of the World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) in the United Kingdom
“The imputations that our client is guilty of corruption, bribery, and misconduct in the office are abhorrent and manifest seriously defamatory for the purposes of the serious harm test under s.1 (1) of the Defamation Act 2013," the letter added.
Hassan's lawyers said they will issue a claim at the London High Court within a week if an apology and retraction of all allegations, including compensation and legal fees payment, are not agreed upon.
In a statement, the lawyers said: “Our client will pursue his judicial remedy against Saif Chaudhry (Article 79) including compensation (Article 81 and s.168, DPA 2018), and a compliance order (s.167, DPA 2018) unless he responds satisfactorily.”
Meanwhile, Chaudhry told Geo News that he has received the legal claim letter. He said his audio and video were meant only for PTI UK groups but were leaked out from there.
"I posted audio and video in PTI groups only for the PTI members and these were not meant for circulation in public but somehow they were leaked from there. The matter is with my legal team now and I will respond as advised by my lawyers," he said.
CM Buzdar had nominated Hassan as the vice-chairperson of the Punjab Overseas Commission on Tuesday after de-notifying Waseem Akhtar Ramay, who served the position for three years.
Hassan has said that an organised campaign of defamation was run against him by a rival group to stop his notification. After meeting CM Punjab on Wednesday, he said he would take legal action against those making false allegations.