London-based Press TV, the Iranian-backed English-language TV channel, has been fined £200,000 in damages by a UK court and a Conservative Party MP, awarded overall damages and legal costs of £338,000.
Ndhim Zahawi, born in Iraq and of Kurdish origin, and the MP for Stratford-on-Avon in the English Midlands, brought an action against Press TV and argued that he had been libelled by the channel in a 2015 Press TV website article.
The article stated that Zahawi, who escaped from Saddam Hussein’s regime as a child, played a pivotal role in so-called IS’s million-dollar-a-day black market oil trade by purchasing crude oil from the militant group at a low price and selling it to markets in Israel and Europe, thereby funding and profiting from trade with a terrorist group.
Zahawi is also Chief Strategy Officer of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and said: “The ludicrous allegation that I, while a Member of Parliament, had firstly betrayed all of my deepest held moral principles, and secondly had somehow managed to avoid international security services, and the law, to personally trade oil with Daesh, was of course completely untrue.”
London’s High Court agreed, and the judge said an allegation of enabling and funding terrorism – and moreover doing so for profit – was “exceptionally grave”. The Court awarded Zahawi £200,000 in damages and a further £138,483 in legal costs.