No, Shehbaz Sharif is not being charged in a UK court in this video

The video is from a January 2020 press conference held by him

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Claim: A video shows Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif listening to a man in a UK court reading out accusations of misappropriation of British taxpayers’ money and government aid, which was intended for the 2005 flood victims. The allegations were originally revealed in a Daily Mail article in 2019, following which the PML-N leader filed a defamation suit.

Fact: The video does not depict Sharif in a UK courtroom but shows a press conference held in January 2020 by Sharif, along with the law firm Carter-Ruck, representing him in his legal case against the paper.

Fact or Fiction?

On 18 November 2022, Twitter user Engr. Tayyib Kahloo (@saytayyib) shared a clip claiming that it shows Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son-in-law Imran Ali Yousaf being penalised in a UK court in the Daily Mail defamation case.

“Shahbaz Sharif @CMShehbaz and his Son-in-law Ali Imran were paneltized in UK court in a case where @Dailymail reported his corruption in earthquake aid. #CrimeMinisterShahbazSharif #WeTrustImranKhan,” the tweet reads.

Some other posts on social media claimed that the video depicts Sharif being accused by a UK court “for misappropriation of UK taxpayers’ money and government aid intended for the flood victims,” while some said a charge sheet is being read against him.

In the 12-second long viral video, the man beside Sharif says, “Mr Sharif misappropriated UK taxpayers’ money and particular government aid intended for the victims of the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.”

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be false. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) official Twitter account clarified that the viral video does not show Sharif in a courtroom; it was actually filmed at  a press conference held by PML-N leader in January 2020. The account also shared a more extended version of the video.

To further investigate the claim, Soch Fact Check searched Google with the search term “Shehbaz Sharif 2020 press conference defamation case,” which  led to a video posted by Geo News’ correspondent Murtaza Ali Shah on 31 January 2020. The 25 minutes and 45 seconds video includes the press conference clip that is being shared more recently.

On 26 July 2019, Sharif tweeted that he had served a legal notice to the Daily Mail. On 30 January 2020, Sharif launched a defamation lawsuit at the London High Court against journalist David Rose and the Daily Mail & Associated Newspaper Limited (ANL) — the publishers of the Mail Online and Mail on Sunday.

The court action was announced at a press conference at the offices of British law firm Carter-Ruck by Alasdair Pepper and Antonia Foster, where Sharif was also present. The law firm is representing the PML-N leader in his legal case against the paper. 

A 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.

According to the latest update, the court has not ruled against Sharif in the defamation trial. It has only rejected the politician’s petition for an indefinite stay in the ongoing defamation case between Shehbaz Sharif and the ANL.

Rose tweeted on 9 December 2022 that the paper had removed the article from the internet and apologised for erroneously reporting that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) accused Sharif of stealing large sums of DFID aid when he was chief minister of Punjab. He also stated that Sharif and Yousaf have “setted their claims” and the “case is therefore over”.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 30-day period leading up to 30 November using the following search terms:

  • شہباز شریف کو چارج شیٹ پڑھ کر سنائی جا رہی کہ آپ پر سیلاب زدگان کی امداد ہڑپ جانے کا کیس  ہے [A charge sheet is being read out to Shehbaz Sharif in the case of misuse of aid for flood victims]
  • Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz sharif accused by UK’s Court

The Urdu search term turned up 137 posts with 23,489 interactions. The oldest post dates back to 18 November 2022.

Siddique Jan Fans’ post is performing 7.42x better than other similar posts, with 49,000 views, 715 likes and 222 shares. 

The claim can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The English search term turned up three posts across 53 interactions on Facebook.

The claim can be found here, here, here, here and here.

On Twitter, the claim was shared here, here, here and here.

PTI MPA in Sindh Assembly Khurram Sher Zaman also shared the clip. It has 24,800 views, 1,999 likes, 1,027 retweets and 50 quote tweets.

Conclusion: The video does not show Sharif being accused or penalised for the misappropriation of British taxpayers’ money and government aid, which was intended for the 2005 flood victims. In fact, the video was taken at a press conference held in January 2020 by Sharif along with the law firm Carter-Ruck representing him in his legal case against the Daily Mail. The court has not ruled against Sharif in the defamation trial.

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