Daily Mail files reply in Shehbaz defamation case

Published March 1, 2022
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/File
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/File

LONDON: A year after a preliminary hearing in a defamation case involving a story on PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, newspaper publisher Associated Newspapers Limited submitted its response as the evidence it relied on to substantiate its story.

The 50-page response was filed in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, by the publisher who publishes Mail Online and Mail on Sunday, after reports of multiple requests for extension.

In its response, the publisher details Shehbaz Sharif’s period of political office as Punjab chief minister between 1997 and 1999 and then 2008 and 2018, saying that he had control over the provincial budget as well as public-private partnerships. It alleged the “receipt of laundered funds” by Shehbaz Sharif’s immediate family and companies under their control. It also claims the receipt of fictitious foreign remittances by the claimant’s immediate family, which it says is evidence by SWIFT records.

The response alleges that from around 2015 onwards, “payments of fraudulent foreign remittances began to be routed through a further layer of bank accounts belonging to third-party companies which, although independently owned, were in fact operated at material times at the behest of the Claimant and his Immediate Family”.

The paper alleged in a 2019 story that Shehbaz Sharif misappropriated UK taxpayers’ money, in particular government aid intended for the victims of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

Shehbaz Sharif filed the suit, claiming damages as well as an injunction restraining the newspaper from publishing the ‘defamatory words’. The story in question was written by British reporter David Rose.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2022

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