Doubling down on defamation

Screenshot 2023-03-06 at 10.02.35

A notorious, unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist appears determined to press the self-destruct button.

Already on separate police and court conditional bail over communications and harassment allegations, Raja Miah, 49, of Stamford Street, Mossley, faces, on his own admission, losing his home over a defamation claim made against him recently by Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE, a nationally known health campaigner, a local councillor and this year’s Deputy Mayor in the Borough of Oldham.

Since those proceedings were served on Miah on 17th January, 2023, he has continued to impute, or allow defamatory commentary, on his frequently banned Recusant Nine social media platforms that Dr Chauhan is guilty of various levels of impropriety.

Imputation is an important component of the Defamation Act, 2023 for both claimant and defendant (read more here) and one to which Raja appears either oblivious or wilfully blind.

That reached a peak yesterday morning (Sunday 5th March, 2023) when Miah posted on the Recusant Nine Facebook page a trailer for a YouTube transmission that was scheduled for later in the day (see above image). It was dominated by a picture of Dr Chauhan, surrounded by friends and colleagues, beneath a large banner announcing his appointment as Deputy Mayor.

There is a single, unmoderated comment below the Facebook post: Tony Bird, an Oldham man with 47 friends, according to his own profile, says: “Everyone a criminal“.

A very highly defamatory claim, seriously damaging to a person of Dr Chauhan’s unarguably high professional and political standing locally, regionally and nationally. With no basis, whatsoever, in fact or evidence, that assertion makes Raja Miah, as publisher, liable, in tort, for a further damages claim.

This would, of course, be quite separate to the very serious claim which he presently faces from Dr Chauhan and, given a brief scan of the publicly accessible documents, in those proceedings, one that he is very unlikely to successfully resist, based on what might be viewed as a legally deficient defence statement. Which, in the main, does not appear to come close to being relevant as to what is claimed against him or, in substantial parts, even admissible in any future hearing.

Miah is legally unrepresented at present, but has told the court that he is hoping to instruct a specialist lawyer before too long. Which is a submission that is at odds with what he has announced on Recusant Nine, to the effect that he will be defending himself.

A more detailed analysis of those ‘pleadings’, as they are known, will appear on Neil Wilby Media within the next few days. Assuming that no other local or regional newspaper, or broadcaster, or the Press Association wins the race to break the story.

Dr Chauhan is represented by JMW Solicitors, a specialist litigation firm based in Manchester, and Jonathan Scherbel-Ball of counsel, a leading junior practising in all aspects of media, communications and information law.

JMW very recently brought other defamation proceedings to a successful conclusion on behalf of another highly respected Oldham councillor, Riaz Ahmad. Also a former Mayor of the Borough and a long-serving magistrate (read more here). Raja Miah was co-defendant in those proceedings but compromised the claim against him at an early stage with a public apology, removal of offending materials and a donation to charity made in Cllr Riaz’s name.

Miah apology to Riaz Ahmad

The other defendant, Khazir Rehman, was not so prescient. He now faces payment against a damages and costs Order against him of over £197,500, after a drawn out process in which his conduct, as a lay litigant, was described as reprehensible; resulting in part of the legal costs being assessed on the indemnity basis as opposed to the rather more restrictive standard basis. A means by which a judge can heavily sanction a miscreant party to civil litigation.

‘Kaiser’, as he is better known, is a long term friend and political ally of Miah and a member of a group of their supporters whom self-style, appositely as ‘The Rabble’. They are pictured here at a Conservative Party social gathering last Summer: Raja front centre in red trousers and Kaiser at the back under the first ‘B’ in Rabble. Cllr Lewis Quigg is front left, next to his close friend and mentor. Front right is de facto Leader of the Rabble, Gary Tarbuck. Far right is  Julie Heywood, whom, amongst others, liked and shared the offending Tony Bird comment.

Rabble at Blue Tiffin

Apart from the prospect of defamation findings against them both, the two may soon have more in common than just thinly disguised hatred of Labour councillors in Oldham, the Borough Solicitor, Paul Entwistle, the Greater Manchester Mayor and the author of this article, Neil Wilby:

Rehman was convicted in August, 2021 of harassing Dr Chauhan and handed down, amongst a range of other sanctions, a 12 week prison sentence suspended for 18 months at a sentencing hearing the following month. Miah is currently on conditional court bail over on-line harassment of a 40 year old lawyer from the Salford area. He has pleaded not guilty and a pre-trial hearing is listed for August, 2023.

He is also on conditional police bail over at least one allegation of malicious communication, following a second dawn raid on his home by Greater Manchester Police officers last month (read more here).

UPDATE: Following publication of this article, a comment, curated mainly for the consumption of The Rabble, was posted on the Recusant Nine Facebook page by way of Raja Miah’s reply:

“Maybe it was something I said as [the author] has gone on a massive rant about it. Apparently, I’m going to be sued again, or arrested again, or maybe more mobsters will try and silence me. I couldn’t work it out. I stopped reading the link I was sent. What a rape gang protecting MP’s attack dog claims about me makes no difference. By now it should be clear that I’ll just keep going no matter how these people try to silence me”.

Miah has yet to produce a single scrap of evidence that any ‘mobster’ has tried to silence him;  that any MP currently sitting in Parliament is ‘a rape gang protector’ or that any journalist acts as her (or his) ‘attack dog’.

The defamatory comment by Tony Bird remains in-situ. A matter to which JMW Solicitors are now alerted.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Update above was posted around 10.10am on Thursday 9th March, 2023. Less than two hours later, despite all Raja Miah’s ‘Do Not Fear Them’ bravado, the defamatory comment posted by Tony Bird was removed.

Page last updated Thursday 9th March, 2023 at 1220hrs

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Picture credits: Facebook

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2023. 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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