Shehbaz sues British publication, journalist over ‘politically motivated’ story

On July 26, the London-based legal firm Carter-Ruck Solicitors issued a press release, saying a formal legal complaint was issued against the news outlets and investigative journalist Rose for the “gravely defamatory” story.

Shehbaz

News Desk |

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has sent a legal notice to British publication – The Mail on Sunday and online news site Mail Online – and its journalists David Rose over a news report accusing him of embezzling millions of pounds from the aid provided for earthquake victims.

On July 26, the London-based legal firm Carter-Ruck Solicitors issued a press release, saying a formal legal complaint was issued against the news outlets and investigative journalist Rose for the “gravely defamatory” story.

The statement further said that if there had been any evidence of the allegations leveled against Sharif, he would have been “arrested and charged”.

The notice read that the “Leader of the Opposition in Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif, issues legal complaint against “politically motivated” attack in Mail on Sunday and Mail Online”.

The story published earlier this month claimed that Sharif, the former chief minister of Punjab, had embezzled funds provided by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the rehabilitation of the 2005 earthquake.

It quoted Assets Recovery Unit Chief Shahzad Akbar and a few other individuals — none of whom were in an official position. The story was quickly refuted by the PML-N and the party had insisted that it was published “on the behest of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan”. It was also rejected by DFID, that said the body’s “robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud”.

Read more: Shehbaz ready to accept punishment if corruption story proven true

“The article is gravely defamatory of Mr Sharif, including false allegations that he misappropriated UK taxpayers’ money in the form of DFID aid intended for the victims of the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan,” the press release read. “I am utterly appalled by these allegations,” the press release quoted Sharif as saying.

The statement further said that if there had been any evidence of the allegations leveled against Sharif, he would have been “arrested and charged”.

The Mail on Sunday and online news site Mail Online – and its journalists David Rose over a news report accusing him of embezzling millions of pounds from the aid provided for earthquake victims.

It added: “At no stage were the allegations properly put to me in advance of publication. Had they been, I would have pointed out — among other matters — that at the time of the earthquake in 2005, I was not even in Pakistan but living in exile in the UK.”

Sharif, in his statement, repeated his claim that the story was part of a “politically motivated campaign” initiated by the premier and his aide Akbar against the former Punjab chief minister.

Read more: Taxpayer’s money used for lavish personal expenses & security: Muraad Saeed

Shehbaz ready to accept punishment if corruption story proven true

Earlier, Shehbaz had announced that he was ready to accept any punishment if the accusations leveled against him in a news report were proved. While referring to the news report, the PML-N leader had said that the earthquake happened in 2005 and he assumed office of Punjab chief minister in 2008. Shehbaz added that he will accept any punishment if the accusations against him are proven to be true.

It quoted Assets Recovery Unit Chief Shahzad Akbar and a few other individuals — none of whom were in an official position.

“Yet, say investigators, all the time that DFID was heaping him and his government with praise and taxpayers’ cash, Shahbaz and his family were embezzling tens of millions of pounds of public money and laundering it in Britain,” writes reporter David Rose. “They are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects.”

The report says Shehbaz’s son Suleman has denied the allegations against him and his family, “saying they were the product of a ‘political witch-hunt’ ordered by Pakistan’s new prime minister, the former cricketer Imran Khan.”

Read more: Confess & seek forgiveness for corruption, Firdous tells Shehbaz

Akbar exposes Sharifs’ corruption, dares Shehbaz to file lawsuit

Recently, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar exposed alleged corruption of Sharif family by presenting documentary evidence of the funds transfer from the ERRA to Shehbaz’s son-in-law, Ali Imran.

While presenting the bank drafts and receipts of TTs to the press, the special assistant had said that the transactions were a piece of evidence against the PML-N leader. “Hamza’s 95 percent assets and Suleiman’s 99 percent assets were made from the said funds,” he said.

Shehbaz had announced that he was ready to accept any punishment if the accusations leveled against him in a news report were proved.

Also, Akbar had challenged Shehbaz to file a lawsuit against Daily Mail for its investigative report allegedly revealing that he and his family were involved in money-laundering in Britain.

Akbar said that Shehbaz’s claims to file a lawsuit against the British paper was similar to his earlier claim of dragging Asif Ali Zardari on the roads. In case the PML-N leader files a case, Akbar had said, he would present proofs of money laundering before the British courts.

Read more: Akbar exposes Sharifs’ corruption, dares Shehbaz to file lawsuit

In the press conference, Akbar had said that over $26 million came into Pakistan through money laundering, adding that between 2007-08 the Shehbaz family received massive funds. “The people who were sent money from abroad in the name of Shehbaz family are so poor that they can’t even travel from Karachi to Lahore,” he had said.

Confess & seek forgiveness for corruption, Firdous tells Shehbaz

Meanwhile, PM Khan’s Special Assistant to Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan had admonished Shehbaz Sharif and his family while advising them to make a confession and seek forgiveness for corruption. In a series of tweets, PM’s special assistant had discussed the claims made by Daily Mail on July 14 of aid money being embezzled and laundered by Shehbaz Sharif and his family.

Akbar said that Shehbaz’s claims to file a lawsuit against the British paper was similar to his earlier claim of dragging Asif Ali Zardari on the roads.

“An official cheque of Rs80 million given in aid for earthquake affected people was deposited in the bank account of former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son-in-law Ali Imran. This fact was admitted by Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) Official Ikram Naveed in his affidavit submitted to NAB in a plea bargain,” Awan stated.

She continued: “the spokespersons of PML-N are telling lies. How long will these spokespersons continue defending theft, corruption, and money-laundering? The list of black money and TTs [telegraphic transfers] by Shehbaz Sharif and his sons are so long that the spokespersons will soon get tired of defending it.”

Moreover, she had said: “If Shehbaz, sons, and son-in-law are honest, then why did they flee from the country?”

“After the confession of ERR official, it is better that Shehbaz’s family makes a confession, and seek forgiveness for their corruption as the doors of repentance are always open,” she stressed.

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