In a public notice issued on Saturday, Carter-Ruck Solicitors in London said that Justice Nicklin in the London High Court approved a consent order resolving a claim on terms that ARY Network Ltd in which the group agreed to pay Mian Mohammad Mansha “substantial damages of £75,000 and agreed legal costs of £200,000.”
The consent order was approved on June 8.
The notice said that ARY Network Ltd “entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on Jan 12, 2017. Following this, the responsibility for the defence of the proceedings passed to the appointed liquidator.” It added that on Feb 1, 2017, the UK media regulator, Ofcom, “revoked all six Ofcom licenses held by ARY Network Ltd due to breaches of the license terms.”
The case was brought by Mansha in April 2016 after a programme titled “Kab Tak”, broadcast in November 2015 by ARY made what Mansha’s lawyers referred to as “wholly false and defamatory allegations,” accusing him of being “guilty of money laundering in relation to the acquisition of the St James Hotel and Club Ltd.” In December 2015, the network again aired what it called “an exclusive report of Mian Mansha’s stay at St James Hotel.”
Network agrees to pay £275,000 for defamation, says law firm
The hotel was purchased by the Nishat Group, owned by Mansha, in 2010 at a reported cost of $60 million. In July 2015, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance asked the State Bank of Pakistan for details on how the remittance was made for the payment. The SBP’s reply was that it had not processed any permission for the remittance. After this, some members of the committee raised the spectre of possible money laundering, which was then reflected in various media reports. These reports were strenuously denied by counsel for Mansha at the time.
As a result, the Islamabad High Court picked up the matter in February 2016 and sought replies from the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Federal Bureau of Revenue, SBP about the payment. The Mansha family maintained that the money for the transaction was lawfully generated in Pakistan, with all taxes paid before being transferred abroad in accordance with law for the purpose of acquiring the hotel.
Legal proceedings against ARY Network began shortly after that in London. In the statement issued by Carter-Ruck, authenticated by the firm for Dawn, the “settlement is a total vindication of Mr Mansha’s position” because “despite many requests, at no time, did ARY Network Ltd provide any evidence whatsoever in support of any of the allegations” contained in its broadcast.
Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2018