LONDON:

A broadcaster of a private Pakistani channel in UK, New Vision TV, has issued an apology to former finance minister Ishaq Dar, stating that their allegations of corruption and misuse of authority against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader were fabricated and “baseless”, the BBC reported.

The remarks came during two news shows – The Reporters and Powerplay – aired by the channel on July 8, 2019 and August 8, 2019.

In the latter programme Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had alleged that Dar had managed and actively impeded the work of the Financial Monitoring Unit in Pakistan by preventing institutions from accessing the systems.

It was also alleged that Dar had taken these steps to “protect individuals involved in the Choudhury Sugar Mills money laundering case”.

Dar had filed a defamation suit in July 2020 against the channel for accusing him of corruption, abuse of power and intimidation of a woman. He served a claim in the UK high court in November of the same year.

However, before the formal proceedings began, New Visions TV admitted that the allegations aired on its programmes were “baseless” and issued an apology.

In their apology statement, the broadcaster accepted that Dar “never managed the Financial Monitoring Unit… never impeded [its] work, nor did he do anything to protect anybody in any case including the alleged Choudhury Sugar Mills case”.

“We unconditionally apologise to Mr Ishaq Dar for the significant distress, upset and embarrassment which these broadcasts have caused him,” the statement further said.

Read Govt to approach SC to undo Dar’s Senate membership suspension

In The Reporters, which aired on July 8, 2019, Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain and Sabir Shakir claimed that Ishaq Dar stole money from the government of Pakistan and was willing to return the ‘stolen money’ to be allowed to return to Pakistan.

The programme further claimed that Ishaq Dar’s bank accounts had been traced and had about $1 billion which was stolen. The show further alleged that Dar had made death threats against an individual to get them to leave Pakistan.

The apology issued by the TV channel stated that: “Dar did not steal any money from the government of Pakistan and secondly, no bank account of Ishaq Dar was found. As a result, there is no question of stealing money”.

“Thirdly, the claim that Dar would return the money on condition that he is allowed to return to Pakistan is false and fabricated. Fourth, Dar did not make death threats to anyone,” it added.

On March 2, 2021, the channel made an offer for amends — a procedure introduced by the UK’s Defamation Act 1996, whereby a defendant in an action for defamation may make a written offer to publish an apology and pay damages. Acceptance of such an offer terminates defamation proceedings and parties settle between themselves.

In his claim, Dar maintained that the accusations by the channel constitute “very serious defamatory allegations of which the claimant is reported to be guilty as a matter of fact” and had caused serious harm.

Along with a restriction and apology, Dar claimed damages for libel of around GBP 200,000 along with legal costs.

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