Friday, December 03, 2021

UK oath commissioner, who authenticated Justice Rana Shamim’s affidavit, ready to appear before Pakistani courts

Charles Guthrie of London Notary Public says he is aware of controversy caused in Pakistan due to Rana Shamim's affidavit

Charles Guthrie of London Notary Public (left) and former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Shamim.
Charles Guthrie of London Notary Public (left) and former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Shamim.

  • UK oath commissioner says he is ready to appear before Pakistani courts.
  • Charles Guthrie says Rana Shamim confirmed to him that he wanted to sign his affidavit.
  • Confirms contents of story published in The News.

LONDON: The solicitor, oath commissioner and notary public who authenticated the affidavit of Justice (retd) Rana Shamim has said that he’s prepared to appear before Pakistani courts to confirm that Shamim signed the affidavit and was in his senses and under no pressure at the time of signing the document that was published in The News first under the byline of Ansar Abbasi.

In an exclusive interview with Geo News, Charles Guthrie of London Notary Public confirmed that the affidavit published in The News and Jang – with the redaction of a key name – was genuine and it’s the same affidavit that carries the stamp of his firm London Notary Public and the name and signature of the London oath commissioner. His response came after he was asked to comment on the affidavit and confirm whether it was fake or genuine, and what happened when Rana Shamim met him.

Guthrie said that Justice Shamim confirmed to him that he wanted to sign his affidavit, carrying claims that former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar exercised pressure on a senior judicial Islamabad High Court official to ensure that former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are not given bail before the 2018 general elections.

Commenting on Justice Shamim, Guthrie: “He is a highly educated, intelligent man. I think he was one of the most senior judges in Pakistan in his time. He confirmed to me that yes he understood exactly what he was swearing by in his oath.”

On whether the affidavit published by The News, a copy of which was shared by Ansar Abbasi, The News investigations editor, was shown to Guthrie for verification, Guthrie said: “This is a true and genuine paper. It was a statement made on oath to me, effectively an affidavit. The person that made it produced their passport and national identity card. They saw me alone, so it was independently made.”

Guthrie also confirmed he was ready to appear at any legal forum, including the Islamabad High Court, to confirm that Justice Shamim made and confirmed the said affidavit.

This correspondent asked the Notary Public and Oath Commissioner if Justice Shamim was under any kind of pressure or duress. Guthrie replied that Justice Shamim was under no pressure or compulsion and “I saw him alone at the time he made that oath with me”.

Guthrie said that be it Justice Rana Shamim or anyone else, the standard procedure in England is that “we ask people if they know and understand the nature of the document they are signing and they approve of; what they are signing; that they have got the capacity of signing it; and that they have got sufficient mental capacity. And they know exactly what they are signing. That’s the usual type of checks we make before we take an oath with someone”.

He explained that “the key point is that the person has to produce proof of identity. They have to produce, for example, either a passport or a national ID card or photo driving license and I will be satisfied they are genuinely the person they are. That’s exactly what happened here. The person (Justice Shamim) produced his passport and I believe it was a national identity card as well. He made the statement of oath independently, alone with me”.

Guthrie provides services to the Pakistan High Commission in London and routinely verifies papers for the Pakistan Foreign Office and the National Accountability Bureau.

He had attested all Panama related papers that NAB officials took from London to Pakistan in 2017.

The UK oath commissioner said he was aware of the controversy caused in Pakistan. He said he will attest papers from anyone as long as it’s from a suitable source.

Guthrie said: “I am independent and neutral. I am a non-political person. So, if the Pakistan High Commission asks me to certify true and genuine papers, I will certify them if they are true and genuine. I have done that in the past. If a person comes to me to make an oath or statement of truth, I will make him produce proper proof of identity and to see they have a proper capacity to make a statement of truth on oath.”

He explained: “Notary is an independent figure. They act for the transaction rather than the actual person making the oath or the person producing the document. A notary is an independent figure that authenticates documents and takes oaths. They are distinct from, for example, a solicitor who is acting for somebody and for a particular party. The commissioner of oath can, in the same way, a county court can take in this country, take the oath of individuals and notaries can do the same. It doesn’t matter which party they are particularly. They are the independent figures administering the oath.”

This reporter understands that at least three people attempted a sting operation on Charles Guthrie paid him fees for verification of documents and then tried to obtain the story as if the affidavit was fake, as if Justice Shamim was under pressure or that the oath commissioner did something wrong. However, it didn’t work as Guthrie stuck to his legal and factual position.

Guthrie confirmed that he has received lots of enquiries since the affidavit of Justice Shamim was made public, after being published in The News and Jang.

“I know its high news in Pakistan. I will generally refuse to say anything about it other than to state what happened that the person making it was identified to me” and that Justice Shamim met him “alone” at the time of giving the oath.

Originally published in The News