A LONDON court has fined the corporation £37,500 for defaming a British businessman who was referred to as a “ISI stooge” on the news programme. The company holds the licence to broadcast Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV in the UK.
In addition to stating that “the programme provided no evidence whatsoever to back its accusations,” the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division held that the allegations were “likely to inflict substantial harm to the Claimant’s reputation.”
On the programme on July 22, 2020, the claimant, Aneel Mussarat, a British businessman of Pakistani descent, was referred to as a “ISI puppet.” “Should Bollywood declare any links to pro-Pakistan, pro-terror, and anti-India individuals and groups?” the captions beneath his portrait read. and “Should Bollywood cut all ties to Pakistanis who support terrorism?”
According to the court judgement, “the broadcast featured significant claims against the Claimant, who was identified by both his image and his name.”
The UK-based Worldview Media Network Ltd, which is licenced by Ofcom to broadcast Republic Bharat, chose not to take part in the legal procedures.
“I have not received any representations on behalf of the Defendant, which is not present nor represented. The written and verbal arguments of Mr. William McCormick, QC, who represents the Claimant, have helped me, the order stated.
The decision to limit his claim was pragmatist in light of the Defendant’s lack of engagement and the slim chances of recovering any of the damages awarded, the ruling stated. “With regard to the claim for damages, I have no hesitation in concluding that the Claimant would be entitled to an award substantially in excess of the maximum permissible under 9(1)(c),” it said.
The court cited cases that established that any claim of terrorism must be taken seriously and as severely destructive as possible, allowing awards of general damages well into the six figures.
A argument on the channel that the British broadcasting regulator determined violated the law against “hate speech” resulted in a £20,000 fine for the firm in December 2020.