Monday February 06, 2023

London oath commissioner confirms validity of ex-judge’s affidavit

Charles Guthrie says that he stands by his statement that Justice Rana Shamim met him alone

December 27, 2021
London London Notary Public Charles Guthrie
London London Notary Public Charles Guthrie

LONDON: The London Notary Public who certified and stamped former chief justice of Gilgit-Baltistan Justice (R) Rana Shamim’s affidavit has “categorically denied” giving any official statement or interview to any media outlet other than his two interviews with The News following the publication of Gilgit Baltistan’s retired chief judge affidavit carrying serious allegations of misconduct against Saqib Nisar, the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, that he ordered judicial manipulation to deny bails to Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz ahead of 2018 elections.

Read more: UK oath commissioner ready to appear before Pak courts

Charles Guthrie said on Sunday that he stands by his statement that Justice Rana Shamim met him alone at the time of signing the affidavit and that he fulfilled all legal requirements. Justice Rana Shamim has also confirmed the affidavit, signed by Charles Guthrie, as a genuine document carrying his signature. Both Rana Shamim and Charles Guthrie have confirmed that the affidavit published in The News by Ansar Abbasi was genuine and nothing was manipulated in it.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Sunday assailed the Sharif family and branded them the "Sicilian mafia" after a local paper alleged in a report from London that former Gilgit-Baltistan chief justice Rana Shamim's affidavit against former top judge Mian Saqib Nisar was notarised at the office of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and that Justice Rana Shamim was not alone when signing the document.

Citing unspecified "evidence" and quoting Charles D. Guthrie as saying that the document was notarised at an office in Marble Arch, London, adding that the office belonged to Flagship Developments Limited, of which Sharif's son Hasan Nawaz is a director and where top PML-N leaders often hold their meetings.

"In the evidence, Guthrie has confirmed three times that Shamim was present at Marble Arch," the story claims, adding that the notary also implied that Shamim was a close friend of Nawaz's and was present when the document was signed.

However, Charles Guthrie “categorically denied” the claims and said that he has spoken in detail about the affidavit in the on-the-record interview with Geo and The News in which he said Rana Shamim had met him alone when signing the paper and was under no stress.

Charles Guthrie of Notary Public London confirmed that Rana Shamim made his affidavit before him and “I verified the authenticity of the signed affidavit”.

Charles Guthrie has refused to answer where exactly he signed the affidavit but he has said that he can sign affidavits at his office, at the client’s home or office and can travel anywhere to do the same as it’s legal to do so – as long as the clients produce their identification, confirm the documents as theirs and make swear under oath in their senses. He said that Rana Shamim met all the requirements as specified by the laws for the oath commissioners operating in England and Wales.

Charles Guthrie, who acted for Pakistan High Commission London during the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT) proceedings when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) needed certified papers from London to present before the courts, said Justice (retired) Rana Shamim spent time “alone with me while making the statement under oath”.

He said: “He (the retired judge) was not under any kind of duress or stress when making the statement. He swore voluntarily.”

Charles Guthrie has confirmed that he has also acted for the Government of Pakistan and confirmed certifying UK papers for Pakistan High Commission in 2017 in the Avenfield case in his capacity as a Notary Public and Notary Public Commissioner for Oath for London, under the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

After publication of the report, the PTI ministers and govt advisors questioned Rana Shamim’s affidavit. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said: "The latest developments have once again exposed the Sharif family to be the Sicilian mafia and how, like a mafia, they possess the power to blackmail the courts and institutions," he said.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the Sharifs "just cannot move beyond trying to thwart justice through buying influence or physically attacking" the Supreme Court. Adviser to PM on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar said that “Sharif family premeditated attack on judiciary to hamper & influence proceedings against unmasked with revelation that Nawaz Sharif had Rana Shamim sign the shady affidavit in his presence in office”.

However, Charles Guthrie - who is on Christmas break and returns to office after a week - said he had not given any statement to any media and didn’t make any such claims as quoted. He said he received a lot of interest after Rana Shamim’s affidavit went public through The News and several people had approached him to get papers verified.

In the affidavit highlighted in The News, Rana Shamim stated that Nisar during his visit to Gilgit Baltistan made a call to an Islamabad High Court judge and asked him to ensure that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are not released on bail before July 25, 2018 general elections. The affidavit was published as part of an investigative report by The News on Nov 15.

Nisar had denied the allegations and said that the claims were "absolutely untrue". In a court hearing on Dec 7, Justice Rana Shamim had confirmed the contents of the document but said that he had neither circulated nor shared the affidavit with anyone. On directions of the court, Rana Shamim has submitted the affidavit in the court — more than a month after it first came to light.