Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has filed a defamation suit against Mail on Sunday newspaper, Mail Online and journalist David Rose in the London High Court for the publication of a “gravely defamatory” story in 2019.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, the PML-N said his legal notice to The Mail on Sunday, online news site Mail Online and Rose was not fruitful as “a copy of the article is still available online”, forcing him to sue the media house.
I’m only going to make one comment on Shahbaz Sharif’s recent statements. He complains the earthquake was in 2005, before he became CM. But according to evidence already aired in a Pakistani court, the alleged thefts from the quake relief fund were in 2009 and 2011. Refutation?— David Rose (@DavidRoseUK) July 26, 2019
Speaking at the press conference, Shehbaz said that had there been any concrete evidence against him, “Imran Khan would not have started the frivolous proceedings in Ashiana Housing Scheme against me, he would have filed a case on this matter. The Lahore High Court’s acceptance of my bail plea is proof that the Ashiana case does not hold any merit”.
Alasdair Pepper and Antonia Foster from Carter-Ruck are representing the former Punjab CM and also flanked the PML-N president during the presser.
Speaking about the presser, Pepper said that the defamation suit has been initiated and the London High Court is expected to take the matter up any time within this year. He said that the article as well as the “social media campaign [against Shehbaz] launched by Rose was highly defamatory”.
A statement by the law firm said that Shehbaz, “as a leading politician and public figure in Pakistan”, intends to clear his name. “He seeks the withdrawal of the allegations and an unreserved and unambiguous apology from the Mail’s publisher,” said the statement.
A confidential investigation report, seen by Daily Mail, says the family was worth just £150,000 in 2003 but by 2018 their total assets had grown to around £200 million
Did Shehbaz Shrif steal money?
According to a confidential investigation report seen by the Daily Mail, millions of pounds were transferred into the bank accounts of Shehbaz’s family members, including his wife, children and a son-in-law. It states to have interviewed key witnesses held on remand in jail, including a UK citizen, Aftab Mehmood, who claims that he had laundered millions on behalf of Shahbaz’s family from a nondescript office in Birmingham – without attracting suspicion from Britain’s financial regulators, who inspected his books regularly.
According to Daily Mail, investigators are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from the Department for International Development (DFID)-funded aid projects. For rehabilitating and rebuilding lives of the poor, DFID gave £54 million from UK taxpayers; and the legal documents allege that Shehbaz’s son-in-law received about £1 million from that fund.
As per claims by the Daily Mail, Britain’s National Crime Agency has been working closely with Pakistani investigators and Home Secretary Sajid Javid discussing the possible extradition of members of Shehbaz’s family, who have taken refuge in London.
A confidential investigation report, seen by Daily Mail, says the family was worth just £150,000 in 2003 but by 2018 their total assets had grown to around £200 million. Among other properties, Shehbaz owns a 53,000 sq ft palace in Lahore, which has its own large security force. The money, the report says, was channeled from abroad – via several elaborate money-laundering schemes, in which Britain played a central role.
Shehbaz Sharif’s initial response
The PML-N President said he decided to file a suit against the Daily Mail. He tweeted: “Have decided to file law suit against Daily Mail. The fabricated and misleading story was published at the behest of Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar. We will also launch legal proceedings against them. Btw IK has yet to respond to three such cases I filed against him for defamation.”
Have decided to file law suit against Daily Mail. The fabricated and misleading story was published at the behest of Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar. We will also launch legal proceedings against them. Btw IK has yet to respond to three such cases I filed against him for defamation.— Shehbaz Sharif (Stay at home to stay safe) (@CMShehbaz) July 14, 2019
Recently, former CM Sharif posted an image and claimed to serve a legal notice against the publication.
Have served legal notice to the DailyMail. Details in the attached image pic.twitter.com/rT4FHcXefB
— Shehbaz Sharif (Stay at home to stay safe) (@CMShehbaz) July 26, 2019
It is yet to be seen how does David Rose responds to the case filed by Shehbaz Sharif since he claimed to have evidence to back his story.