The Mail on Sunday (UK)
The following Press Release with accompanying texts was issued by Kendall Freeman on 13 January 2004:
Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz accepts substantial damages and apology from Mail on Sunday
Saudi businessman Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz has accepted substantial damages and a comprehensive apology from the publishers of the Mail on Sunday newspaper, its editor Peter Wright and journalist Graeme Beaton in settlement of a libel action following publication of an October 2002 article, it was announced in the High Court in London today.
Sheikh Khalid, for many years Chairman of Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank, commenced libel proceedings against the Mail on Sunday following an article alleging he was the brother in law of Osama Bin Laden, funded Bin Laden's terrorist activities, and had been dismissed from NCB because of funding of terrorism. In today's hearing at the High Court before Mr Justice Eady, the newspaper accepted that there was no truth whatsoever in any of these allegations. The newspaper acknowledged that Sheikh Khalid was not Bin Laden's brother in law, had never supported or funded terrorist activities, and left NCB only for health reasons. Sincerely apologising for any distress and embarrassment that these false statements caused to Sheikh Khalid and his family, the Mail on Sunday's solicitor confirmed that the paper and the journalist were undertaking to the Court not to repeat the allegations. The paper will be printing an apology in this Sunday's edition of the paper. The paper is paying substantial damages as well as making a contribution to Sheikh Khalid's legal costs.
Laurence Harris, partner at Kendall Freeman, solicitors acting for Sheikh Khalid said: "Sheikh Khalid welcomes this settlement. When this article was published Sheikh Khalid had no choice but to bring proceedings to put to rest these very serious and false allegations. He is pleased that the Mail on Sunday have finally recognised there was no truth whatsoever in the allegations, and that his reputation has been vindicated. He will be donating the substantial damages paid by the paper to UNICEF".
Sheikh Khalid is continuing to pursue two further sets of libel proceedings in London. In the first, he and his son have brought proceedings against the authors Jean Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie. Judgment has been entered against M Dasquie but the proceedings against M Brisard (who also gave a witness statement supporting the Mail on Sunday in the action just settled) are continuing, as are a second set of proceedings brought by Sheikh Khalid against M Brisard and two companies owned by him.
Notes for Editors:
The parties have agreed that the amount of damages being paid and contribution to costs being made by the Mail on Sunday is to be kept confidential.
The full text of the statement before Mr Justice Eady in the High Court in London:
STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT
Solicitor for the Claimant:
1. My Lord, I appear on behalf of the Claimant, Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz. My friend, Mr Niri Shanmuganathan, appears on behalf of the Defendants, who are respectively, a journalist writing for the Third Defendant; the editor of the Mail on Sunday and its supplement, Financial Mail on Sunday (issued with and as part of the Mail on Sunday); and the publisher of the Mail on Sunday.
2. Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz is a 54 year old Saudi Arabian businessman.
3. On 27 October 2002, the Third Defendant published an article entitled "Bin Laden's Texan Banker Haunts Bush" (the "Article") in Financial Mail on Sunday. The Article suggested that Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz:
4. There is no truth whatsoever in any of these serious and defamatory allegations. Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz is not the brother-in-law of Osama Bin Laden and has never supported or funded Bin Laden's terrorist activities. Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz and his family abhor terrorism in every way. He was never a chief operating officer of BCCI, he resigned from National Commercial Bank for health reasons and there was no audit at NCB which uncovered illegal funding of monies. The Defendants have now accepted that the allegations which they made against Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz are unjustified. The Third and First Defendants have therefore undertaken to the Court not to repeat the allegations complained of and the Third Defendant has agreed to publish an apology in agreed terms in the next edition of Financial Mail on Sunday. In addition, by way of acknowledgement of the embarrassment and distress caused to Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz and his family, the Defendants have agreed to pay Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz substantial damages which he is donating to UNICEF, together with a contribution to his legal costs.
- is the brother-in-law of Osama Bin Laden and assisted terrorism by funding Bin Laden;
- was Chief Operating Officer of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International ("BCCI") and participated in BCCI's alleged involvement in manipulating markets, arms trafficking and supporting international terrorism;
- was dismissed from the National Commercial Bank of Saudia Arabia for suspected illegal funding of monies to Islamic charities supporting terrorism, following an audit which uncovered the diversion of monies.
5. An agreed draft Order has been handed up which the parties invite the Court to make. On that basis, Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz considers that his purpose in bringing this action has been achieved and he is prepared not to pursue the action further.
Solicitor for the Defendants:
6. My Lord, on behalf of the Defendants to this claim, I confirm what my friend has said. Through me, the Defendants sincerely apologise to Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz and his family for the distress and embarrassment caused to him as a result of the allegations made in Financial Mail on Sunday referred to by Mr Harris.
Solicitor for the Claimant:
7. My Lord, with that, Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz is content to let the matter rest. All that remains is for me to ask your Lordship's permission for an Order in the terms of the draft.
The text of the apology to be printed in the Mail on Sunday on 18 January 2004 is as follows:
Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz|
On 27 October, 2002, we wrongly alleged that Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz had funded terrorism and was the brother-in-law of Osama Bin Laden. We also incorrectly suggested that Sheikh Khalid was formerly Chief Operating Officer of the discredited Bank of Credit and Commerce International and was dismissed from the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia for suspected illegal funding of monies to Islamic charities supporting terrorism following an audit which uncovered that funding.
We accept that there is no truth whatsoever in any of these serious allegations. Sheikh Khalid is not the brother-in-law of Osama Bin Laden and has never supported terrorism. We accept that Sheikh Khalid and his family abhor terrorism in every way. We apologise to Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz for the distress and embarrassment we have caused. We have agreed to pay him substantial damages which the Sheikh is donating to charity, together with a contribution to his legal costs."