Leading news channel Dunya News has apologised to PML-N leader Nasir Butt and agreed to pay £ 90,000 in damages in order to avoid a full trial for defamation due to allegations that it had earlier made against him. Dunya News will also pay his legal costs, which amounted to approximately £ 85,000. The Pakistani network assured the London High Court that all its allegations against Nasir Butt and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, in the context of the Judge Arshad Malik leaked video scandal, were defamatory and baseless in nature. The UK broadcasting station of Dunya News will also air an apology in this regard.
Nasir Butt initiated defamation proceedings at the UK High Court against several Pakistani TV channels. Before settling his case with Dunya News, Nasir Butt has already won two separate cases against ARY and HUM News respectively.
Dunya News had aired allegations that linked Nasir Butt to the Italian mafia and the Kasur rape incident among others. The channel had alleged that these and other instances of blackmail, corruption, threats and bribes were meant to help former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. These allegations were made in four broadcasts involving Ayaz Amir, Shahbaz Gill, Saad Rasool, Habib Akram and Firdous Ashiq Awan.
Nasir Butt had come under attack from Pakistani media and the then government of Imran Khan after he filmed judge Arshad Malik and passed the film to Maryam Nawaz before leaving for London. Maryam Nawaz addressed an explosive press conference on the 6th of July 2019 in Lahore, where she revealed that the accountability judge had contacted Nasir Butt and told him that he was feeling “guilt” and “having nightmares” after announcing the “unjust” verdict against Nawaz Sharif. She had gone on to play a video showing Nasir Butt and the judge talking to each other.
Now Dunya News has told the London High Court:
“We accept that Mr Nasir Butt is a man of good character and credibility. The false allegations were made against Mr Nasir Butt because of his role in obtaining a confession from the late accountability Judge Mr Arshad Malik that he had been blackmailed to convict the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, and that he regretted doing this to the innocent Nawaz Sharif.”
According to Dunya News, in July 2019, it had broadcast a show calld Ikhtalafi Note in which PTI leaders Firdous Ashiq Awan and Shahbaz Gill had accused Nasir Butt of being a killer, drug dealer, fugitive from justice and disreputable character. They had claimed that he could have been trying to bribe Judge Arshad Malik before he recorded the video of the latter.
Moreover, on the 12th of July 2019, the PTI’s Ayaz Amir had alleged on Dunya News that Nasir Butt could be linked to organised crime in Italy and elsewhere, and was capable of bribing or coercing judges into favouring Nawaz Sharif.
Taking back any such claims made during its broadcasts, Dunya News has told the London court:
“All these allegations made by Dunya News were false and untrue as Mr Butt is not a murderer or a multiple murderer. Mr Nasir Butt is not a member, leader or key part of a drug-selling network. Mr Nasir Butt did not leave Pakistan in order to avoid prosecution for criminal offences and he is not famous for this. Mr Nasir Butt is not a leader of a criminal gang. Mr Nasir Butt did not engage in bribing Judge Arshad Malik in any way shape or form. Mr Nasir Butt is also not of a disreputable character and he does not engage in blackmailing activities.”
It also went on to note: “We unconditionally apologise to Mr Nasir Butt for the distress, upset and harassment which these broadcasts have caused him. We have agreed to pay Mr Nasir Butt substantial damages and legal costs.”
Nasir Butt’s lawyer has told the court that he has ongoing cases against two more TV channels at the High Court. He was represented by Stone White Solicitors and Counsel David Lemer of Doughty Street Chambers.