[Dawn 13 November 2019] LONDON: Broadcast journalist and the former spouse of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Reham Khan, this week won damages and was issued an apology by a private television channel after pursuing a libel case against it in the UK High Court.
Ms Khan through her lawyer informed the UK High Court on Monday that Dunya TV in a show aired in June 2018 had made several “very serious allegations”. The channel in a talk show had alleged that she had colluded with her ex-husband’s political rivals in the PML-N and/or that she had accepted a substantial payment from or on behalf of its leader, Shahbaz Sharif, in return for writing her autobiography. It had also made derogatory remarks (implying she is a prostitute) towards Ms Khan.
The case was settled when Dunya TV informed the court that it accepted that there is no truth to this allegation, or to any of the other allegations that she complained of.
“The defendant offers its apologies to the claimant for any distress and embarrassment caused by the broadcast,” read the defendant’s statement. “The defendant accepts that there was or is no truth in the allegations advanced during the broadcast and is happy to set the record straight and apologise to the claimant. The defendant has agreed to pay the claimant substantial damages and her legal costs,” reads the statement submitted in open court.
The statement, signed by the lawyers of Ms Khan and the channel, describes Dunya TV as a 24-hour news and current affairs channel which is broadcast to approximately 59,000 viewers daily in the UK. It also says the defendant is a company incorporated in England which holds the Ofcom licence for broadcasting Dunya TV in the UK.
After the apology, Ms Khan said in a statement: “These allegations have put my life at risk and have repercussions for me for all my life. I hope that my victory and vindication serves as a catalyst for ethical journalism and honest politics in Pakistan. I see this as a win for all women in Pakistan who suffer character assassination by patriarchal society.”
Ms Khan had earlier brought the talk show in question to the notice of Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, which upheld her complaint in February 2019 by saying that “the broadcaster did not take reasonable care to satisfy itself that material facts had not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to Ms Khan”.
The lawyer for the claimant maintained that, in light of the defendant’s apology and agreement to pay damages, Ms Khan would like to withdraw the record.
Days ahead of the general election in July 2018, Ms Khan published her eponymously-titled book — a tell-all memoir which detailed her 10-month marriage to Mr Khan. The book, which was released digitally as a PDF at the time, made the rounds on social media and became the focus of talk-shows in which excerpts were quoted at length. The book details her courtship and eventual marriage to Mr Khan, as well as the events which led to the couple’s divorce in October 2015.
PTI leaders have dismissed the contents of the book as false.
Meanwhile, the managing director of the Dunya Media Group, Naveed Kashif, expressed surprise at what he called the way a settled issue between the two sides was being wrongly presented by Ms Khan.
In response to a query by Dawn, he said that the issue was settled out of court after an agreement between the two sides.
“It’s not a court verdict as pretended by Ms Khan but an out of court settlement. If she maintains the same version about the settlement, which is not true, there is always a possibility of legal action to set the record straight,” he added.