Anchor shares misleading claim about Daily Mail-Shehbaz Sharif case

A UK court only turned down a stay petition submitted by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

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Claim: A UK court has announced its verdict against Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in a defamation case about a story published by the British tabloid, Daily Mail, about alleged corruption by Sharif.

Fact: The High Court has not ruled against Pakistan’s incumbent prime minister. Justice Sir Matthew Nicklin of the High Court King’s Bench Division only rejected Shehbaz Sharif’s petition for indefinite stay in the ongoing defamation case between Sharif and the Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) — which owns Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and Mail Online.

On 10 November 2022, talk show host Maleeha Hashmey tweeted that a court in the United Kingdom has “announced a verdict” against Sharif — also the president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. Hashmey has a verified Twitter account with over 1.4 million followers.

“BREAKING: The UK court has announced a verdict against Shehbaz Sharif. Shehbaz Sharif failed to respond to Daily Mail’s defence. A heavy fine has been imposed.”

An investigative report by British investigative journalist David Rose published in 2019 alleged that the Sharif family embezzled foreign aid worth “up to £500 million” provided by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) when Shehbaz Sharif was the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Sharif had sued the ANL in 2020.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reviewed the court order, which was shared by Rose on his Twitter account.

As per the official document dated 9 November 2022, shared in the graphic above, Justice Nicklin (Judge in Charge of the Media and Communications List) ordered:

  1. The claims of Shehbaz Sharif and his son-in-law, Imran Ali Yousaf, to be “case managed and heard together”.
  2. Both claimants “must file and serve Amended Replies […] by 4.30pm on 13 December 2022” — with the instruction that Sharif’s claim will be struck out if he fails to comply.
  3. Sharif “must pay the Defendant’s costs of and occasioned by a. the Stay Application, and b. his original Reply (including the costs arising from the process by which extensions of time were sought and agreed in respect of the same)”. This includes £30,000 to be paid by 4.30pm on 23 November 2022.
  4. Yousaf must pay £27,055, of which “£4,509.16 is to be paid by 23 November 2022” and the rest in five instalments of the same amount every 28 days.

The High Court has not ruled against Pakistan’s incumbent prime minister. Sharif’s petitioned for a stay — an indefinite postponement — in the ongoing defamation case between himself and the ANL. The High Court refused Sharif’s request and ordered Sharif and Yousaf to pay the Mail’s costs for the hearing about this matter.

Sharif is supposed to pay the costs by 23 November 2022, while Yousaf is expected to make the first of his five payments on the same date. Both are supposed to respond to the High Court by 13 December 2022.

The ANL is expected to apply for the Costs and Case Management Conference (CCMC) on a date after 24 January 2023.

A trial of the claims is set to be held at the Royal Courts of Justice on 9 October 2023.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 9-17 November 2022 period using the following search terms:

  • “برطانوی عدالت نے شہباز شریف کے خلاف فیصلہ سنا دیا”
  • “شہباز شریف ڈیلی میل کے دفاع کا جواب دینے میں ناکام”
  • “شہباز شریف ڈیلی میل”

The first and second search terms turned up 4,658 and 5,541 interactions across 80 and 81 posts on Facebook, respectively.

The third search term turned up more than 2,600 posts on Facebook with 674,098 interactions and 17 posts on Instagram with 15,633 interactions.

Other posts that we came across through Facebook’s organic search tool are available here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. We also found videos carrying misleading text here, here, and here.

On Instagram, we also found a misleading post by @siasat.pk, which included a misleading tweet, captioned as: “برطانوی عدالت نے کہا یہ پاکستان نہیں جو اپ کو تاریخ پہ تاریخ مل جائے- پارس جہانزیب”. Two others by @bolnetwork — available here and here — were also accompanied by misleading captions.

On Twitter, Soch Fact Check found close to 40 tweets, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: The claim is misleading because the High Court only rejected the former’s petition for indefinite stay in the ongoing defamation case between Shehbaz Sharif and the Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) — which owns Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and Mail Online. The court has not ruled against Sharif in the defamation trial.

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1 month ago

[…] to the latest update, the court has not ruled against Sharif in the defamation trial. It has only rejected the politician’s petition for […]

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