The London-based publisher of a pan-Arab newspaper and a couple of its editorial staff have this week been awarded libel damages after allegations made against the publication were found to be defamatory.
The lawsuit was launched when Alan Merdini, the editor of kurdistanpost.com, published an article entitled: “In order to publish his diaries Jalal Talabani has given 4 million dollars to Asharq Al Awsat newspaper”.
The article claimed that the publisher and senior staff of the Asharq Al Awsat newspaper had accepted money for publishing the interview with Talabani. This was later proved to be a false accusation and Merdini now has to rely on his professional indemnity insurance (should his publication have a policy) to cover damage payments.
HH Saudi Research and Marketing, the publisher of the Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, was awarded £20,000 in damages, whilst editor-in-chief Tariq Al-Homayed and senior journalist Maad Fayad received £30,000 and £35,000 respectively. Merdini was also ordered to pay £40,000 in legal costs.
Following the verdict, a spokesperson for the victorious parties said:
“We prize our reputation extremely highly and are very glad that the judge has made awards which properly reflect the damage and distress caused to the claimants by the wholly fictional claims posted on this website.”