Thursday Apr 14, 2022
LONDON: The London High Court has ruled in favour of Judge Arshed Malik's video scandal’s central character Nasir Mehmood Butt in the defamation case that started after serious allegations were made against the PML-N UK leader for secretly recording late Judge Malik.
Honourable Justice Collins Rice has ruled that a private Pakistani TV channel’s comments about Butt were “defamatory of Mehmood at common law”. This is Nasir Mehmood Butt’s second libel case victory after he successfully sued ARY’s UK broadcaster NVTV last year.
In her judgement of over 6,000 words, Justice Collins Rice ruled that she was relying on the historic ruling made by the London High Court about Geo and Jang’s Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman in 2016 in which the precedent was set about the Urdu broadcasters. Rehman had won the defamation case against ARY at the London High court, with a total case cost of nearly £3 million.
Butt launched his defamation case against the private channel over four programmes broadcast in July 2019 after Maryam Nawaz Sharif released the video of Judge Malik which was secretly filmed by Butt. In that video, the judge had confessed that he had been coerced into convicting and jailing Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister of Pakistan. The four programmes include "Ikhtalafi Note" featuring Ayaz Amir, tickers on the screen, headlines of one bulletin and the "Think Tank" programme.
During the broadcasts, Butt was called a drug dealer, a blackmailer, a leader of a criminal gang and drugs dealing network, a killer and being involved in sexual crimes. Some of these allegations were made by former PM Imran Khan’s advisors Firdous Ashiq Awan and Shahbaz Gill. The judge noted both of them were “politically hostile” to Nawaz Sharif and their allegations against Butt were taken seriously by the ordinary viewers.
In one of the most extraordinary comments, one of the show participants had likened Butt to the rapists of children in Kasur. The participant had suggested that the judge was himself one such victim and he suggested that Judge Malik had claimed he was being blackmailed with a sexually compromising video and had been at the mercy of his blackmailers for some time.
Justice Collins Rice ruled that the natural and ordinary meaning of the publications complained of were defamatory at common law. This means that the private TV channel will have to prove each and every word alleged as a fact and not an opinion during the full trial of the case at the same court.
Butt was represented by David Lemer and the TV channels were represented by Dr Anton van Dellen for the trial of the natural and ordinary meaning of broadcasts to determine whether the words spoken about Butt amounted to factual allegations or statements of opinion; and whether they are defamatory of Mehmood at common law.
The court has given Chase Level 1 defamatory meaning in most of the words and sentences complained of.