Carter Ruck sues Mail publishers on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD, 26th July: Renowned media law firm Carter Ruck has started formal legal action on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif against the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday, online news site Mail Online and its journalist David Rose about a “politically motivated” article published on Sunday, 14 July 2019.
Carter Ruck confirmed to this correspondent that it has agreed to act on behalf of Shabhaz Sharif, President of the PML–N party, leader of the Opposition in Pakistan and former Chief Minister of Punjab after reviewing the case for a week. Papers seen by this reporter show that Alasdair Pepper, Antonia Foster and Victoria Anderson will represent Shahbaz Sharif in his legal claim against the publication.
Carter Ruck said: “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. Mr Sharif denies these allegations in the strongest possible terms.”
The paper in its report had suggested that Shehbaz Sharif and his family stole British taxpayers’ money given to Pakistan’s Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) set up to help the victims of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.
Shahbaz Sharif’s English lawyers said in a statement on Friday morning that he was “utterly appalled by these allegations”.
Shahbaz Sharif said: “It is disgusting for the Mail to claim that I stole money from a fund for earthquake victims. Clearly were there any evidence in support of this, or any of the other allegations contained in the article against me, then I would have been arrested and charged. This appears to be yet another politically motivated campaign against me and my family by the current government of Pakistan, which, according to the article, granted the journalist ‘exclusive access to some of the results of a high-level probe ordered by Khan’ including a ‘confidential investigation report’ and highly unusually access to ‘interview key witnesses held on remand in jail’. 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. I value my professional and personal reputation very highly and will do all that is necessary to clear my name of these terrible allegations, and will pursue this claim through the courts of England and Wales, if that is what is required.”
Shahbaz Sharif’s representatives had met three different defamation law specialist firms in the course of two weeks and decided to go with Carter Ruck.
The report, titled “Did the family of Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy for British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims, asks DAVID ROSE”, said the newspaper was given exclusive access to “some of the results of a high-level probe ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan”.
The DFID refuted claims made by The Mail on Sunday of aid money being embezzled and laundered by Shehbaz Sharif and his family.
Rejecting the assumption that UK taxpayers’ cash meant for earthquake victims was stolen by Shehbaz, DFID maintained that “our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud”.
In a statement, a DFID spokesperson said: “The UK’s financial support to ERRA over this period was for payment by results – which means we only gave money once the agreed work, which was primarily focused on building schools, was completed, and the work audited and verified.
“The UK taxpayer got exactly what it paid for and helped the vulnerable victims of a devastating earthquake. We are confident our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud.”

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