Reham Khan apologises to Zulfi Bukhari, will pay damages after losing libel case in UK

Anchorperson Reham Khan apologised to PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari on Friday after losing a defamation case brought by the latter against her in the United Kingdom.

In 2019, Khan had made several allegations of corruption and nepotism against Bukhari, claiming that he, in connivance with Prime Minister Imran Khan, was involved in a “corrupt plan” to sell Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York and later to purchase it at a lower market price.

Bukhari had objected to these allegations and served a libel case against her, seeking a retraction, damages and cost of legal fees.

During a preliminary hearing in London earlier this year, the judge had found that Khan’s words had amounted to a Chase Level 1 imputation. As determined by the judge, this had meant that the defamatory words would be understood by an “ordinary reasonable reader” as actual guilt on the part of Bukhari.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Khan apologised for a number of claims she had made regarding the PTI leader.

She said she had made assertions on social media platforms in December 2019 about the PTI leader being allegedly involved in a “corrupt plan” with Prime Minister Imran Khan to sell and acquire New York’s Roosevelt Hotel.

“On Dec 7, 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,” she said.

These allegations were “false and untrue”, Khan said, adding that Bukhari was not involved in any corrupt plan, fraud, nepotism or attempt to sell the hotel.

On March 15, 2020, she said she had shared a tweet and a video that asserted that Bukhari had lied 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,” she said.

Apologising for this action, Khan said the PTI leader had never shown any fake documents, had not used illegal or fraudulent means to build his wealth or launder it.

“Zulfi Bukhari has built his wealth; such as it is, through hard work and not through any form of illegal conduct,” Reham wrote.

She also addressed sharing tweets on March 17 and March 20 last year that asserted the PTI leader had acted against journalists, criticising his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and claiming that Bukhari had jeopardised the lives of people due to his “incompetent management” of the disease’s spread.

Khan clarified these allegations were also “false and untrue” since Bukhari had no role to play in managing the coronavirus situation 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,” Khan explained in her statement.

Bukhari welcomed the development, saying that “truth always wins!”

“Upon court orders, Reham Khan publicly apologises and pays damages for her lies,” he tweeted.

The PTI leader hoped that someday “we’ll have the same law and justice so certain media persons spreading lies and fake news can be taken to task.”

Reacting to the development, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said attempts to bring a legal system similar to the one that had ordered Khan to pay damages and apologise to Bukhari in Pakistan were instead met with resistance by “media owners in the name of freedom of expression”.

“Anyway Reham being a liar was proved once again. She is actually a habitual liar,” Chaudhry tweeted.

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