The Indian Express quoted the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice noting that “the programme contained no evidence whatsoever to support its assertions.” The court further held that the allegations were “likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the Claimant.”
Aneel Mussarat, a British businessman of Pakistani origin, was called an “ISI stooge” on 22 July 2020. Mussarat’s photograph was also broadcast with captions that read, “Should Bollywood renounce any links with Pakistanis who take a pro-terrorist line?” and “Should Bollywood declare any links to pro-Pakistan, pro-terror, anti-India individuals and groups?”
The company, Worldwide Media Network Ltd, registered in the UK, holds a licence to broadcast Republic Bharat and did not participate during legal proceedings.
The order read:
“The Defendant is neither present nor represented and I have received no representations on its behalf. I have been assisted by the submissions, both written and oral, of Mr William McCormick QC who appears on behalf of the Claimant.”
“With regard to the claim for damages, I have no hesitation in concluding that the Claimant would be entitled to an award substantially in excess of the maximum permissible under 9(1)(c) but his decision to limit his claim is pragmatic in the light of the Defendant’s failure to engage and the dim prospects of recovering any of the damages awarded,” the ruling said, as reported by The Indian Express.
Relying on precedent which have held that allegations of terrorism are extremely serious and damaging, and have awarded general damages well into six figures.
The British broadcasting regulator also fined the company £20,000 back in December 2021 for a debate which was found to breach the code against “hate speech.”