Gresham Legal acts on successful defence of libel claim

Published on August 24, 2021

Gresham Legal successfully defended New Vision TV Limited (“NVTV”) against a libel claim brought by Mr Farhan Junejo, a Pakistani national living in the UK.

NVTV is an English company that broadcasts television programmes in the UK through its “New Vision” satellite television channel on Sky TV. NVTV owns the exclusive rights to broadcast content produced by ARY News in the UK and the European Union. ARY News bulletins are produced in Urdu in Pakistan for broadcast there. They are also beamed to the UK for broadcast on the New Vision channel, subject to editorial control by NVTV in order to comply with the terms of its broadcasting licence and any editorial guidance issued by Ofcom. 

On 17 September 2018, Mr Junejo and his wife (Ms Binnish Qureshi) were arrested by officers of the National Crime Agency. They were released the same day and have never been charged. The arrest was a major news story in Pakistan, covered by most media organisations. It was common ground that:

  • On 17 September 2018, NVTV broadcast various bulletins produced by ARY about the arrest which did not name Mr Junejo or Ms Qureshi.
  • At 04:20 GMT on 18 September 2018, NVTV broadcast an ARY bulletin in which Mr Junejo was named in the text of the ‘tickers’, but not the audible part of the broadcast.

However, it was disputed whether NVTV had broadcast a further ARY News bulletin at 02:12 GMT on 18 September 2018, which named Mr Junejo and made defamatory statements about him. There was no recording of the relevant programme as alleged to have been shown on the New Vision channel.

NVTV’s case was that that it had given instructions for the relevant bulletin not to be broadcast in the UK, or for Mr Junejo and his wife to be named on air, in accordance with NVTV’s ‘Broadcast Intervention Procedure’.

At an earlier preliminary issue trial, Nicklin J ordered that the issue of whether NVTV published the programme complained of in this jurisdiction be tried as a further preliminary issue.

At the trial, Mr Junejo relied on evidence from his wife’s cousin (Mr Sarfraz Durrani) that he had seen the relevant programme on the New Vision channel at 02:12 GMT on 18 September 2018. Mr Junejo had also intended to call his wife’s mother (Mrs Shaista Qureshi) to give evidence, but at the start of the trial, he sought an adjournment on the basis that she was “traumatised” by the recent hospitalisation of Ms Binnish Qureshi and so was unfit to give evidence. The trial judge, Murray J, refused to adjourn the trial.

All of the witnesses, save for Mrs Shaista Qureshi, were cross-examined at trial. Murray J rejected the evidence adduced on behalf of Mr Junejo as to the programme having been broadcast on the New Vision channel as being implausible (concluding that the evidence of Mr Durrani and Mrs Shaista Qureshi had most likely fallen prey to the unconscious influence of the pressure of litigation on their recollections); and instead accepted the evidence of NVTV’s witnesses to the effect that instructions had been given to ARY not to broadcast the content complained about. That those instructions were implemented was corroborated by the channel logs and the “as run” logs, which contained a record of the programmes broadcast.

Mr Junejo’s claim was accordingly dismissed, and he was ordered to pay NVTV’s costs of the proceedings.

Junejo v New Vision TV Limited [2021] EWHC 2366 (QB)

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