Meesha Shafi Triumphs in Defamation Case Against ARY’s UK Broadcaster

Singer Meesha Shafi has won the initial phase of her defamation lawsuit against New Vision TV Limited (NVTV), the UK broadcaster of ARY. The preliminary trial at the London High Court concluded that Shafi was defamed at the highest level by the channel through several broadcasts related to her harassment case against singer Ali Zafar.

Shafi, who has numerous hit songs in Pakistan to her credit, filed a lawsuit against NVTV in London. The channel had accused her of disregarding Pakistani court orders by traveling from Canada to Pakistan to record songs for Coke Studio and then returning to Canada, instead of attending court for two years in Zafar’s defamation lawsuit at Lahore sessions court.

During a broadcast on December 5, 2020, the channel aired images of Shafi alone and with Zafar, video footage of Zafar, followed by images of Shafi in a recording studio, images of a court order, video of the sessions court complex in Lahore, and images of tweets. One of these tweets was particularly offensive, likening Shafi to an animal and ridiculing her.

Shafi relied on three separate but similar segments broadcast with numerous tickers repeating the defamatory statements. One segment stated that Shafi arrived in Pakistan quietly, recorded songs in the studios, and returned to Canada instead of appearing in court. The court had been summoning Shafi for two years over Zafar’s defamation allegations against her.

In April 2018, during the peak of the global #MeToo movement, Shafi, who is based in Canada, accused Zafar on social media of physically harassing her on multiple occasions during their friendship and musical collaborations. Her accusations created a storm in Pakistan, and both have been involved in litigation since then. Zafar denies the allegations.

After a trial, Royal Court of Justice Judge Johnson declared that the words broadcast were statements of fact and meant that Shafi knew of the court orders but did not comply with them. She traveled to Pakistan from Canada and instead of complying with the court’s orders as required, she deliberately ignored them. She recorded a song and then returned to Canada.

The judge stated that the words used by the channel “threw the court orders to the winds” went beyond what the parties had set out and meant that Shafi had deliberately ignored court orders.

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