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Pakistan

August 26, 2020

Roosevelt Hotel: Zulfi Bukhari takes Reham to London High Court for ‘defamation’

Pakistan

Wed, Aug 26, 2020

LONDON: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant Zulfi Bukhari has sued PM Khan’s second former wife Reham Khan for defamation at the London High Court over allegations made in a tweet that Zulfi Bukhari had personal interest in the alleged sale of Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan.

The announcement that Zulfi Bukhari has taken legal action for libel at the Royal Court of Justice in London High Court was made by Reham Khan in a statement she released through her Twitter, asking the public for donations of up to £30,000 to fight the case.

Reham Khan posted a link, hosted by her son Sahir Khan, which gave some details of the case, focused only on the Roosevelt Hotel but this reporter has obtained details of the full case from London High Court which establishes that the defamation claim is wider in scope including several other Tweets and Retweets, making allegations of corruption.

The defamation claim relates to a broadcast by Reham Khan on 6th December 2019 on Youtube in an online livestream regarding the possible sale of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. The hotel is owned by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and considered one of the nation’s finest national assets.

Reham Khan tweeted on 6 December 2019 that Pakistan’s national assets were being sold to help people like Zulfi Bukhari and Aneel Musarrat and called it an act of “robbery”. A link to a youtube commentary was also given in the tweet. Both the tweet and the youtube link were deleted before the court action started, it’s understood.

Appealing for the support, Reham Khan’s son wrote that “this is going to be a case of critical importance for freedom of expression on matters of demonstrable public interest, Reham Khan simply discussed the matter while demanding transparency over important decisions regarding its administration’ and “this libel case is an attack on freedom of speech and the rights of Pakistanis. Reham Khan has nothing to gain by speaking out about the Roosevelt Hotel but was affected by the series of events, as all patriotic Pakistanis would be. We must fight against tactical suppression of such voices.”

Zulfi Bukhari was not available to comment. However, the court papers show that the case is of quite serious nature. Zulfi Bukhari is seeking an apology, retraction of allegations and damages from Reham Khan.

In the claim papers filed around two months ago, the PM’s advisor alleged that Reham Khan “specifically” targeted him in reference to the sale of Roosevelt Hotel. Zulfi, whose name appears in court papers as Sayed Zulfi Bukhari, has claimed that he was defamed and his reputation was harmed as a result of the Roosevelt tweet and other Tweets and Retweets.

There were five members in the advisory committee (including Razak Dawood) who were tasked to look into the Roosevelt Hotel future. Zulfi’s lawyer had claimed that only their client maligned, singled out and allegations of corruption and favourtism were made, allegedly, by Reham Khan as if the govt wanted to favour him through the hotel sale.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) govt had set up a committee which was only advisory in nature and was set up to explore all options for the national loss making entity. The same committee was dissolved, after making recommendations on hiring a financial advisor and how to look at various financial models to run the hotel, and the matter was referred back to the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP).

A spokesman at the London High Court said that the formal trial will take place after about eight months. Reham Khan is represented by Hamlins law firm and Zulfi is being represented by a defamation law specialist firm. Reham Khan has denied all allegations and she has announced to fight the claim.