The Mail on Sunday and Mail Online have apologised to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif, over a “seriously defamatory” article published in July 2019.
The newspaper and website falsely claimed that Sharif had embezzled British taxpayers’ money given in grant aid for the victims of the disastrous 2005 earthquake that hit Pakistan.
The article was headlined “Did the family of Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy for British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims”. Sharif believed the claim was politically motivated.
Legal firm Carter Ruck said Sharif issued legal proceedings in January 2020 after the Mail titles refused to withdraw the claim or apologise. It said the article was “false and very seriously defamatory”.
The law firm said: “In its defence, served in February 2022, the Mail finally conceded that it did not seek to defend the allegations it had published with regard to alleged misuse of British public money and DFID aid.”
The Mail titles have now published an apology to Sharif and taken down the online article.
The Mail’s correction states it “reported on an investigation by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau into Mr Sharif and suggested that the money under investigation included a not insubstantial sum of British public money that had been paid to the Punjab province in DFID grant aid.
“We accept Mr Sharif has never been accused by the National Accountability Bureau of any wrongdoing in relation to British public money or DFID grant aid. We are pleased to make this clear and apologise to Mr Sharif for this error.”
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