14 January 2014
Newspaper to Pay Libel to Welsh Assembly Member
An Urdu-language newspaper and two of its staff members have been told to pay £270,000 in compensation after it libelled a Welsh assembly member (AM).
London-based Nawaijang is, according to its owner, the most popular Urdu-language newspaper in the UK and has enjoyed a substantial following amongst the nation's Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian communities, reports Wales Online.
A verdict from judge Milwyn Jarman QC ruled that an article dated back to January 2012 wrongly alleged Mohammad Asghar, a Welsh Conservative politician, caused affray and a breach of the peace that led him to be banned from a mosque.
The defamatory article added: "He had sought to turn different groups of Muslims against each other purely to serve his own selfish political agenda; that he is involved in financial scandals and corruption.
"[He is] reasonably believed to have received corrupt payments and to be involved in money laundering; and that there is a finding by Newport Magistrates Court that he is a liar."
Journalists at Nawaijang also claimed Mr Asghar was part of a gang of three people that transferred the ownership of two mosques for personal financial benefit, that he defrauded an insurance company and knowingly passed on counterfeit money.
These claims were not backed up by any evidence.
Judge Jarman QC ruled that the claimant had suffered "humiliation" within the Muslim community because of these false allegations and that as such he should be entitled to a substantial sum of money.
Mr Asghar told Wales Online: "British justice has been done."
One of the two writers implicated in the libel, a Mr Muhammad Asif Saleem, claimed he would appeal against the verdict and that he could not testify in court because of a heart condition. Mr Saleem added he did not write the article and should not be involved in the defamation action.
It is unclear when, or if, the journalist will submit his appeal.