UK court slaps heavy fine on youtuber Adil Raja in defamation case

Directs youtuber to pay £10K to Brig (R) Rashid Naseer for using highly defamatory words on social media

LONDON  -  Controversial Youtuber Major (Retd) Adil Raja has suffered a crushing blow as a UK High Court Judge rejected all his applications including his application to stay a defamation trial progressing against him by former senior military officer Brigadier (retired) Rashid Naseer, while ruling that Mr Raja had published words which were seriously defamatory of Rashid Naseer in nine publications on social media sites YouTube, Facebook and Twitter/X.

Deputy High Court Judge Mr Richard Spearman KC ruled that Adil Farooq Raja should pay £5,000 to the now retired Brigadier for the rejected application to stay the defamation trial and the judge also ordered Adil Raja to pay a further interim payment on account of costs in the sum of £5,000 for the failed security for costs application. Adil Raja, the defendant, has until 17 April 2024 to pay this money. With help from his lawyer and PTI UK leader Mahtab Anwar Aziz who also represents PTI activist Shayan Ali, Adil Raja appeared before the court remotely by video link and argued that the case of Brig (R) Rashid Naseer should be stayed on a number of grounds but the court rejected all his arguments which included allegations that Pakistan was an authoritarian state in which the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) controlled the Judiciary and the Government and allegations of election rigging in Pakistan.

In the case on meaning, the High Court Judge ruled that 9 out of the 10 publications published by Adil Raja were defamatory of Brig (R) Rashid Naseer at common law and were matters of fact, rather than expressions of opinion. Brig (R) Rashid Naseer’s name had surfaced when former PM Imran Khan named him as Mr ‘X’ in making wild and baseless allegations – the allegations Khan and his party stepped back from and failed to prove at any forum.

In deciding the meaning of the publications, Deputy High Court Judge Mr Richard Spearman KC ruled that Brig (R) Rashid Naseer was defamed at UK common law when Adil Farooq Raja made the following allegations, without any evidence, in the publications in June 2022: (1) The reasons why the elections were not proceeding as they should was because Brigadier Rashid Naseer had taken complete control of the Lahore High Court; (2) Brigadier Rashid Naseer had allegedly had several meetings with Asif Ali Zardari during his stay to discuss election manipulation; (3) Brigadier Rashid Naseer will be eliminated at the right time by soldiers working covertly leaking information about the actions and movements of such people; (4) Brigadier Rashid Naseer has set up an election cell in the Sector Headquarters in Lahore tasked with gathering daily progress reports of PDM and PMLN candidates, summoning local influencers and pressurising and bribing them into casting votes against PTI candidates; (5) Brigadier Rashid Naseer is part of a meticulously contrived process set up by military and intelligence officers to rig elections in Pakistan; (6) Brigadier Rashid Naseer has been abusing his position, using huge unaccounted funds to ensure the victory of PDM and PMLN and manipulating elections in Pakistan; (7) Brigadier Rashid Naseer will be abusing his position and power to use the Police and Dolphin Force to harass PTI supporters during the PTI election; (8) Brigadier Rashid Naseer has sinned and destroyed his chances of the promised life in the hereafter just to serve one person; (9) Brigadier Rashid Naseer had caused the police to do his bidding by making a baseless allegation of bribery against Adil Raja; (10) Brigadier Rashid Naseer is directly involved in political interference; (11) Brigadier Rashid Naseer registered a complaint against Adil Raja in order to defame him and prevent him receiving his identity card and passport because Adil Raja had exposed his plans to rig elections and this is how Brigadier Rashid Naseer, a fraudster from Lahore, operates; (12) On the instructions of Brigadier Rashid Naseer a fake case was registered against Adil Raja and his brother in law was arrested; and (13) Brigadier Rashid Naseer played a prominent role in regime change.

Brig (R) Rashid Naseer denies all these allegations. As a result of the Judge’s ruling, Adil Raja will now have to prove that the substance of each and every allegation is true.  

In a separate application, Adil Raja had asked the court to make Brig. (retired) Rashid Naseer pay a sum of £250,000 as security for his costs because Mr Rashid Naseer is based in Pakistan and suing in the UK but the Judge rejected this and agreed with the lawyers for Brig (R) Rashid Naseer that he will give an undertaking that his solicitors will hold only £4,000 as security.  This was a tact by Raja to stop Brig (R) Rashid Naseer from pursuing the case but the attempt did not work as planned as it would not be possible for Mr Naseer to arrange an amount of £250,000 to keep in the UK account of his lawyers.

In his application, Adil Raja had also sought anonymity for his witnesses to trial but the court agreed with the position that Brig (R) Rashid Naseer’s lawyers adopted and allowed Mr Raja’s application to anonymise his witnesses but only up until the witness statements are exchanged.  Thereafter if Raja wants his witnesses anonymity to continue he will need to make a further application and convince the court to allow his witnesses to remain anonymous, at which stage Brig. (retired) Rashid Naseer can challenge the anonymity should he choose to do so.

In another setback for Adil Raja, he had also asked the court in a separate application to dismiss the claim brought by Brig (R) Rashid Naseer on the grounds that he had not suffered serious harm.  The Judge did not deal with this and simply adjourned Mr Raja’s application which was agreed by Brig (R) Rashid Naseer’s lawyers.

The retired military officer sued Adil Raja, asserting that the fugitive retired major deliberately spread false information about him to cause harm and profit from fake news on social media.

Adil Farooq Raja initiated his campaign against the officer on June 14, 2022, through tweets and videos of YouTube and Facebook.  Court documents reveal that the retired brigadier filed his case through his UK lawyers on August 11, 2022. In his defamation claim, the senior military officer refuted each and every allegation as false and stated that he had suffered significant damage to his reputation, with the potential for further harm in the future.

Adil Raja has been living in the UK since April 2022. Brig (R) Rashid Naseer was represented by Counsel David Lemer of Doughty Street Chambers and Ushrat Sultana and Sadia Qureshi of Stone White Solicitors. Major (R) Adil Farooq Raja was represented by Mahtab Anwar Aziz of Central Chambers Law Solicitors.

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