Journalist and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s former wife Reham Khan has settled a libel case she filed in the United Kingdom against a Pakistani news channel that aired defamatory content about her in 2018, Dawn reported on Wednesday.
Dunya TV, which also operates in Britain, has tendered an apology to Reham Khan and agreed to pay the journalist “substantial damages and her legal cost”. London High Court judge Matthew Nicklin had heard the case on Monday. The journalist had initially complained to the United Kingdom’s media watchdog, which upheld the complaint in February.
“The defendant offers its apologies to the claimant for any distress and embarrassment caused by the broadcast,” the news channel said in a 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.”
In June 2018, the channel had aired Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed’s comments accusing Khan – who is British Pakistani – of colluding with Imran Khan’s political rivals to target him in her autobiography, which was released before the General Elections in the country. The memoir contained numerous salacious details about Imran Khan, who had positioned himself as a conservative Muslim in the run up to the elections. She was married to the politician for 10 months.
During proceedings, the court was informed that the journalist had been compared to courtesan Budhan Bai, a historical figure, during the programme aired by the channel. A number of slurs were also cast upon Reham Khan’s character.
“The most serious allegation that he [Rasheed] made was to claim that our client had colluded with her ex-husband’s political rivals, the Pakistan Muslim League, and accepted a substantial payment from or on behalf of its leader, Mr Shehbaz Sharif, in return for writing her autobiography,” PTI quoted Reham Khan’s lawyer Alex Cochrane as saying.
Cochrane added that the channel had apologised to his client and accepted she did not receive any payment from either Sharif or anyone else in the party for the book. Dunya TV also provided an undertaking that it would not reiterate these “false accusations”.
‘Catalyst for ethical journalism’
The journalist said she hoped her victory would be viewed as a “catalyst for ethical journalism and honest politics in Pakistan”. “These allegations have put my life at risk and have repercussions for me for all my life,” she said, according to Dawn. “I see this as a win for all women in Pakistan who suffer character assassination by patriarchal society.”
However, Dunya Media Group’s Managing Director Naveed Kashif said he was surprised at the way Reham Khan was presenting the case. “It’s not a court verdict as pretended by Ms Khan but an out of court settlement,” he said. “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.”
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