LONDON: A British lawyer who was removed by Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf party for representing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son-in-law Imran Ali Yousaf in a defamation case against the Daily Mail has said the outcome of the Shehbaz son-in-law’s defamation case is just that , which is what they wanted when they launched a case against the newspaper for publishing a false and defamatory story about reporter David Rose.
Barrister Waheed Ur Rehman Mian said the successful out-of-court settlement – apology and removal of the defamatory article – was “exactly in line with what the clients (Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Ali Yousaf) wanted in their defamation lawsuits. They had repeatedly stressed that the Daily Mail messages were fake and unfounded and that they had nothing to do with corruption.
They wanted the false news about alleged corruption in the Department for International Development (DFID) aid allocation to Pakistan removed. Before the trial, Daily Mail entered into negotiations and settled the case according to clients’ instructions.”
Rehman said he agreed to represent Imran Ali Yousaf after being fully satisfied with evidence that David Rose’s claims that Ikram Naveed was Imran Ali Yousaf’s frontman were false and false.
The lawyer said there was no doubt that Ikram Naveed, an Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) executive, was involved in corruption, but Imran Ali Yousaf had nothing to do with him and Yousaf only had real business with him did . He said: “There were over 40 developers who did business with Ikram Naveed, Imran Ali Yousaf was one of them. The NAB investigated the case and returned all investors’ money, but only singled out Imran Ali Yousaf as the victim.
“We asked Imran Ali Yousaf for evidence, complete NAB records, bank traces, evidence of asset purchases and companies. He is happy with everything and we have filed a lawsuit on his behalf. He said Daily Mail and David Rose had nothing to defend Imran’s claim and apologized when asked to provide evidence of embezzlement.
At the time the defamatory article was published on July 14, 2019, the Daily Mail had said it had all the evidence to support its claim, but Barrister Waheed said the Daily Mail had applied for nine extensions. “Daily Mail said it took time because it wanted to interview over 100 witnesses in Pakistan and that’s when Covid started.
With travel restrictions lifted, direction hearings began and an October hearing date was set. Negotiations for an apology have been going on behind the scenes the entire time,” the attorney said. Barrister Waheed said he knows the risks of representing Imran Ali Yousaf as he is a senior PTI leader in the UK and has therefore set high standards of proof. He said: “I cannot comment on Shahbaz Sharif’s case as we did not represent him, but we requested all evidence against Imran Ali Yousaf from the Daily Mail; We cross-examined them and asked for facts, but Daily Mail had nothing but mere allegations.
“Barrister Waheed said PTI leadership is aware that he represents Imran Ali Yousaf and he personally informed Imran Khan when he took the case and the former PM has no problem with it. It was only after Shahbaz Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Ali Yousaf won against Daily Mail that the PTI leadership saw their narrative damaged and the conflict of interest exposed. “I handled this case as a professional attorney. But despite knowing his advocacy for the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, I was only removed from the party position after the Daily Mail apologized.” Barrister Waheed said that Imran Ali Yousaf’s case was so strong against the Daily Mail that “we took him out of it advised against settling out of court and not being in a hurry because we knew he would win the case, but by and large he decided to settle the case as the other party (Shehbaz Sharif) decided to settle the case with a Apologies and removal of the article. We advised Imran Yousaf not to negotiate and go to court.”
He said Daily Mail apologized after his lawyers suggested the newspaper will lose if the case goes to court. “They entered lengthy negotiations on the advice of their attorneys, which have been going on for some time.” During the negotiations, they made an “offer to apologize within the first year (2020) of filing the case. Daily Mail had already entered negotiations to apologize before filing the defense (in February 2022) on corruption when it filed the defense in February this year. First, Imran Ali Yousaf rejected the Daily Mail’s offers of apologies in mid-2020. “Then there was a second and third offer and our client accepted the fourth offer along with Shahbaz Sharif and an agreement was reached.”
The lawyer confirmed that offers of apologies were made when PTI was in power in Pakistan. Barrister Waheed said it became clear to the Daily Mail in February 2019 that he could not defend the allegation when Judge Nicklin ruled the trial in favor of Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Ali Yousaf, adding that it didn’t matter which decisions meet the NAB courts in Pakistan and that in the UK the case will be decided on merit and English law. After his victory in the case, Barrister Waheed Ur Rehman Mian informed the party leadership that he was ready to step down from his role if necessary.
“I have informed the party that the party should consider relieving me of my duties if my professional role as a lawyer in the UK is deemed to conflict with party policy and if this is detrimental to the party’s representation.