ARY TV Network ordered to pay rival £185,000 after libel claim

A London-based Pakistani TV network has been ordered to pay £185,000 in libel damages after broadcasting hundreds of defamatory news items about a rival.

Press Gazette reports that the defamatory statements were broadcast in the UK on the Urdu language ARY network.

Mir Shakil-Ur-Rahman, group chief executive and editor-in-chief of the Jang group of companies, brought proceedings in London against ARY Network Ltd and its chief operating officer Fayaz Ghafoor.

The ARY group is a commercial rival of the Jang and GEO group.

Shakil-Ur-Rahman, who complained of a campaign over 24 programmes, was singled out for persistent abuse and ridicule over a year-long period from October 2013.

His counsel, Matthew Nicklin QC, characterised his treatment as “nasty, deliberate, relentless and oppressive”.

The judge, who earlier struck out defences of justification and fair comment, said there had been no withdrawal or apology, no evidence was adduced by the defendants at trial and it was quite obvious from the conduct of the litigation that they held the claimant in contempt.

He said he would put on record the falsity of the serious allegations they were making and to award damages for the purposes of compensation and vindication.

The allegations complained of were very serious, went to the core attributes of Mr Shakil-Ur-Rahman’s personality and were published to tens of thousands of people in England and Wales.

None of them could be successfully defended and they were clearly defamatory, he added.

“The sum I am awarding should be enough to convince any fair-minded observer of the baselessness of these serious charges and to afford some measure of consolation in respect of the hurt and distress undoubtedly caused,” said the judge.

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