LONDON: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s former Special Assistant Zulfi Bukhari has won his defamation case against Reham Khan — a broadcaster and former wife of the premier — at the London High Court. According to court papers seen by the correspondent of Nation, Lahore, Reham has paid the sum of £50,000 as a contribution towards Bukhari’s costs and damages.
Reham agreed to withdraw all allegations and apologised for broadcasting a defamatory video on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. She also regretted re-tweeting three tweets carrying defamatory allegations of corruption, nepotism, and embezzlement.
A Tomlin Order sealed by the High Court of Justice in London shows that Reham agreed to apologise and pay damages ahead of a full defamation trial in the case, following a determination at the same court in June this year when a judge found that the words uttered by her against Bukhari comprised chase level-1 defamation — the highest form of defamation which could be proven through facts only.
According to court papers, Bukhari sued Reham at the London High Court after she had published a video on her YouTube channel, Facebook, and Twitter on December 6 and 7, 2019, including tweets and retweets in which she asserted that he was involved in a “corrupt plan with the prime minister to sell or acquire the Roosevelt Hotel in New York at lesser value for his benefit.”
In a statement attached with the Order, which she has agreed to publish, Reham withdrew all allegations and rendered a full and unconditional apology.
Reham said before the court: “On 6 and 7 December 2019, I published a video on my YouTube Channel, my Facebook page, and on my Twitter account in which I asserted that Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, more commonly known as Zulfi Bukhari, was involved in a corrupt plan with the Prime Minister of Pakistan to sell or acquire the Roosevelt Hotel in New York at an undervalue for his benefit.”
“These allegations were false and untrue. Zulfi Bukhari, as I now understand, was not involved in any corrupt plan with the Prime Minister of Pakistan to sell or acquire the Roosevelt,” she said.
“On 7 December 2019, I retweeted a tweet and video by Syed Tauqeer Bukhari in which it was asserted that Zulfi Bukhari was involved in fraud and nepotism by trying to sell a precious asset of the state of Pakistan, the Roosevelt Hotel, for a meagre amount of money. These allegations were false and untrue. Zulfi Bukhari, as I now understand, has not been involved in fraud or nepotism nor was he trying to sell the Roosevelt for a meagre amount of money.”
“On 15 March 2020, I retweeted a tweet and video by Syed Tauqeer Bukhari in which it was asserted that Zulfi Bukhari had told lies on television, including showing fake documents to people. It was further asserted that Zulfi Bukhari had made money by illegal and fraudulent means and used illegal means to launder it. These allegations were false and untrue. Zulfi Bukhari had never shown fake documents to people. His money has not been made by illegal or fraudulent means nor has he used illegal means to launder it. Zulfi Bukhari has built his wealth; such as it is, through hard work and not through any form of illegal conduct.”
“On 17 March 2020, I retweeted a tweet by Inamullah Khattak in which it was asserted that Zulfi Bukhari had served official notices of complaint on journalists who criticised his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and this amounted to a state attack on the freedom of the press for which he is responsible. These allegations were false and untrue, as Zulfi Bukhari had no role in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.”
“On 23 March 2020, I retweeted a tweet by Syed Tauqeer Bukhari in which it was asserted that Zulfi Bukhari had put millions of Pakistanis’ lives at risk because of his incompetent management of the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan. These allegations were false and untrue as Zulfi Bukhari was not involved in the management of coronavirus in Pakistan. I unconditionally apologise to Zulfi Bukhari for the significant distress, upset and embarrassment which these publications have caused him. I have agreed to pay Zulfi Bukhari substantial damages for libel and to pay his legal costs.”
In the settlement agreed between the two parties, Reham agreed that she will tweet the apology and clarification in both English and Urdu and pin it to her Twitter account for at least 3 consecutive days.
The London-based broadcaster said she would also issue the same apology in both English and Urdu on her YouTube channel and Facebook page.
On 30 June 2021, Bukhari had won the first round in the defamation case against Reham at the Royal Court of Justice at a trial of preliminary issues where Justice Karen Steyn determined the meaning of the eight publications which were the subject of the defamation claim and accepted submissions from Zulfi’s lawyer Barrister Claire Overman that her client had been defamed widely.
After the trial, both Zulfi and Reham entered into negotiations to settle the case on the terms proposed by Zulfi’s lawyers.