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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Zia Chishti Wins Landmark Defamation Lawsuit Against Narratives Magazine

Zia Chishti wins a landmark defamation lawsuit against Narratives Magazine, highlighting serious issues of transparency and malicious intent.

Pakistani-American tech entrepreneur Zia Chishti has won a major defamation lawsuit against Narratives Magazine and its editor Mr. Amir Zia over false, defamatory, and malicious allegations.

Allegations and Defamation Claims

Narratives Magazine had levelled serious accusations against Mr. Chishti, labelling his reputation as “toxic” and citing allegations of sexual misconduct and violations of securities and other corporate laws against him.

Zia Chishti is a serial tech entrepreneur who founded the multi-billion-dollar company behind Invisalign dental braces and the multi-billion-dollar artificial intelligence company Afiniti. President Mamnoon Hussain awarded Mr. Chishti the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2018.

The Lahore High Court has ruled that Mr. Chishti was defamed without any basis and out of malice. In a scathing ruling, Judge Muhammad Farhan Nabi stated that Narratives Magazine had offered no credible evidence whatsoever in its defense and that the magazine had caused Mr. Chishti severe damage.

The Court awarded Mr. Chishti the largest defamation damages award in Pakistani history, stating that the editor “is also directed to publish a clarification along with an apology in his magazine regarding the article in question.”

When reached for comment, Mr. Chishti stated: “I thank the Lahore High Court for providing me justice. I also want to thank my family and my closest friends for standing with me through exceptionally difficult times. This is the first of many cases I intend to win as the truth increasingly comes to light.”

Alan Dershowitz’s Involvement

Harvard Professor Emeritus and renowned litigator Alan Dershowitz took a personal interest in the proceedings. He commented in a statement: “The decision from the Lahore High Court in Pakistan is the first to vindicate Mr. Chishti’s position that the allegations against him are just that: allegations.”

“I have advised Mr. Chishti and followed this case with interest. It is part of a broader set of defamation lawsuits brought by Mr. Chishti, including suits against his accuser in the US and against the Telegraph in the UK. Many in politics, business, and the press rushed to judge Mr. Chishti simply on the allegations levelled against him, without giving Mr. Chishti any opportunity to establish his innocence,” he further added.

Mr. Dershowitz continued, “The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, for example, allowed his accuser a national stage to level her accusations, without providing any opportunity to Mr. Chishti for rebuttal. Such conduct is an unfortunate feature of the present climate in which the principles of justice on which all nations governed by the rule of law — due process and a strong presumption of innocence — have taken a back seat to virtue-signaling and ‘always believe the victim’ thinking. By setting the record straight in the courts, Mr. Chishti is taking a brave step both towards clearing his name and towards finding a better balance between the rights of the accuser and the accused.”

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Mr. Chishti was represented in this case by barrister Mr. Faisal Nawaz. Mr. Nawaz commented: “I am proud to have represented Mr. Chishti in this case, and glad to see justice done. As the Court has ruled, Narratives Magazine acted with malice and with no basis in fact in attacking Mr. Chishti. Mr. Amir Zia never even attempted to reach Mr. Chishti for comment before rushing to publish falsehoods. This reprehensible behaviour deserved and received the strongest sanctions.”

Broader Ramifications and Ongoing Lawsuits

This case in Pakistan will likely have broader ramifications. Mr. Chishti has filed several defamation lawsuits, including one against Britain’s powerful right-wing paper The Telegraph.

In late 2021 and early 2022, the Telegraph published a series of articles about Mr. Chishti. As with Narratives Magazine, the Telegraph had picked up on his former employee Ms. Tatiana Spottiswoode’s allegations against him, which were delivered in front of the U.S. Congress in November 2021. Mr. Chishti is represented in the U.K. by Ms. Adrienne Page KC, who declined to comment based on the pendency of the proceedings.

Mr. Chishti has also sued Ms. Spottiswoode and her attorneys for defamation in the United States. In his U.S. complaint, he included text conversations with Ms. Spottiswoode that seemingly indicate a consensual relationship. The evidence shows the relationship was based on mutual consent and trust, spread over months and years. In one communication, Ms. Spottiswoode states that she was “looking forward … to being seduced and slowly undressed” by Mr. Chishti.

Legal Immunity and Representation

A key part of Ms. Spottiswoode’s defense appears to be that because her allegations against Mr. Chishti were made to the U.S. Congress, she has legal immunity against Mr. Chishti’s defamation lawsuit. In the U.S., Mr. Chishti is represented by Mr. Benjamin Chew, a well-known litigator who successfully represented actor Johnny Depp under similar circumstances.

Mr. Chew said in a statement: “The Lahore High Court issued a detailed memorandum judgment sustaining all elements of Zia Chishti’s defamation claim against the author of a now thoroughly discredited hit piece. Specifically, the Honourable Muhammad Farhan Nabi, District Judge, ruled that the article at issue in Mr. Chishti’s complaint ‘is defamatory in nature and contains unfounded, false, baseless and disparaging statements and representations in written form against the plaintiff to injure his reputation in society.’”

Mr. Chew continued: “In imposing the highest defamation award in Pakistani history, Judge Nabi underscored the strength of Mr. Chishti’s claims and the unfairness of the author’s approach: ‘That the malicious and malafide intention of the defendant is clear from the fact that while editing, publishing and circulating the article [Mr. Chishti] was not provided any opportunity to express his viewpoint in respect of the false, unfounded and baseless allegations made against [him] in the article.’ We believe and hope that this important decision should be the first of several vindications of Mr. Chishti and his reputation.”

Leadership Changes at TRG and Ongoing Disputes

As a result of the allegations against him, in November 2021 Mr. Chishti stepped down from his leadership of TRG. Under Mr. Khaishgi and Mr. Aslam, TRG’s stock price has fallen approximately 60 percent from Rs 151 to Rs 62 while they have paid themselves over one billion rupees in compensation. Mr. Aslam and Mr. Khaishgi have initiated litigation in both Pakistan and the U.S. against Mr. Chishti seeking to prevent him from retaking control of TRG, primarily taking the same line of argument levelled by Narratives Magazine, and now discredited by the Lahore High Court as being without basis.

In turn, Mr. Chishti has accused Mr. Khaishgi and Mr. Aslam of various civil and criminal misconduct and called for a general meeting of shareholders to remove them from their positions on the board of TRG.

People associated with TRG declined to comment on the record. Repeated emails to the attorneys representing Ms. Spottiswoode and her co-defendants offering them the opportunity to state their position without the benefit of immunity provided by the U.S. Congress went unanswered.
















This article was received directly from the reporter.