Leading Tory activist faces up to £200,000 costs and damages after High Court defeat

rcj

In a detailed High Court judgment handed down on 3rd February, 2022, following hearings held at the Royal Courts of Justice in April and October, 2021, Master Victoria McLeod found that Khazir Rehman, 36, of Oldham, Greater Manchester had harassed and seriously defamed a pillar of his local community, Cllr Riaz Ahmad (read full details here).

Rehman, who is much better known locally as ‘Kaiser’, describes himself as a leading Tory activist election expert. He formerly served on the same Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council as Cllr Riaz and was, in fact, a Labour Party colleague at that time. In August, 2021 Kaiser was convicted of harassing another Labour councillor, Dr Zahid Chauhan, and is currently serving a suspended prison sentence. The Oldham and Saddleworth Conservative Group has been asked on a number of occasions, since the conviction, to confirm whether Rehman remains their best known member.

After an inexplicable delay of over eight weeks, a consequential Order was handed down to the parties to the High Court claim. It also contained a Penal Notice served on Khazir Rehman that if he breached the terms of the Court Order he may be held in contempt of court. As would any person found to be assisting Kaiser in breaching the Order.

These are the specific terms of the Injunction [Khazir Rehman is the First Defendant and Riaz Ahmad is the Claimant]:

1. The First Defendant is restrained and a permanent injunction is hereby granted restraining the First Defendant whether by himself, his servants or agents or otherwise howsoever from publishing or causing to be published words to the effect that:
a. the Claimant is a paedophile, or is guilty of sexual abuse, or is reasonably suspected of the same;
b. the Claimant groomed for sexual purposes any young men or children; or
c. the Claimant manipulated or exploited for sexual purposes a young man or child;
or any other words to the same or any similar effect defamatory of the Claimant.

2. The First Defendant is further restrained, and a permanent injunction hereby granted restraining him, whether by himself, his servants or agents or otherwise howsoever from:
a. publishing or causing to be published words to the effect that the Claimant has lied or given misleading and false evidence about any of the matters referred to in paragraphs 2(a)-(c) above, or has committed misconduct in a public office in connection with any such allegations, or any words to similar effect defamatory of the Claimant; or
b. harassing the Claimant by repeating or publishing words linking the Claimant with allegations of sexual abuse or in any other way.

3. In order to comply with paragraphs 1 and 2 above, the First Defendant shall forthwith remove from the internet the publications referred to in Schedule A to the Particulars of Claim and any posts to the same or similar effect, or shall edit such posts to remove any reference to the Claimant or the allegations made against him. The First Defendant shall serve on the Claimant’s solicitors a witness statement confirming this and explaining what actions he has taken, within 7 days of service of this Order.

4. Nothing in this Order shall prevent the use, disclosure, communication or publication of any information:

a. to legal advisors instructed in relation to these proceedings for the purpose of obtaining legal advice in relation to these proceedings; or

b. for the purposes of carrying this Order into effect; or

c. for the purpose of these proceedings (including for the purpose of gathering evidence in relation to these proceedings) provided that any person to whom such information is disclosed must first be either given a copy of this Order or notified of its substance and effect; or

d. to the Police.

It appears that, in anticipation of this injunction being granted, Kaiser Rehman deleted his social media accounts shortly after the judgment was handed down at the beginning of February, 2022.

The Court Order goes on to deal with damages that are to be awarded to Riaz Ahmad, in these terms: The First Defendant shall pay the Claimant damages for libel and harassment in a sum to be assessed at a disposal hearing, if not agreed between the parties. At the outset of the claim, court fees were paid by Cllr Ahmad to allow for an award of £100,000 damages in his favour. That sum reflects the seriousness of the manner in which he was libelled.

The disposal hearing will be listed at the Royal Courts of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, with a time estimate of 2.5 hours. The time lapse for a hearing of this nature is said to be presently running at around three months.

Following the disposal hearing, Kaiser Rehman will be required, under section 12 of the Defamation Act 2013 to publish an agreed summary of the Court’s judgment in this action, including in respect of the remedies (damages, costs and injunction).

The Court also ordered Rehman to pay the Claimant’s costs of the application for a disposal hearing and of the claim to date. These are to be subject to detailed assessment by the Court if not agreed between the parties. Riaz Ahmad’s costs will very likely exceed £100,000 at the conclusion of all matters. He has been represented throughout by JMW Solicitors in Manchester. Instructed counsel is Ben Gallop of 5RB Chambers, a media and communications law specialist.

The Second Defendant in this defamation and harassment claim was an unemployed political activist, Raja Miah, of Mossley, Tameside who is a friend and close political ally of Kaiser Rehman. A compromise was reached between Cllr Ahmad and Miah, in early 2021, whereby the latter apologised publicly, made a payment to charity and removed, or edited, offending publications from his frequently banned social media platforms, styled ‘Recusant Nine’.

Page last updated: Saturday 2nd April, 2022 at 2305 hours

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Picture credit: HM Courts and Tribunals Service

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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