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British journalist cleared of libel.

Dubai A British journalist was yesterday acquitted of libelling over the internet an English-language newspaper and calling its editors unethical and immoral over uncorroborated evidence.

The Dubai Misdemeanour Court cleared the 50-year-old journalist, M.T., after the newspaper failed to corroborate its claims that he was the one who allegedly libelled the newspaper, calling its editorial management as being driven by sex and money.

"The technical reports and prosecutors' investigations were insufficient enough to unveil the real suspect who committed the crime. Etisalat couldn't identify the internet user who committed that act.

"The claimant failed to submit any proof that could help substantiate its claim that the suspect, M.T., committed the crime, especially that during that same period the newspaper had fired many employees, including M.T.," explained Presiding Judge Jamal Jubaily in yesterday's judgment.

M.T.'s lawyer, Abdul Hamid Al Kumaity, argued before the court that his client was innocent and did not commit libel.

Late complaint

"The newspaper was three months late in complaining to the police and accusing my client of committing the alleged crime. As per the Criminal Procedures Law, a case in court should be dropped for time lapse.

"The libellous phrases were keyed in by a non-native English language speakerEoACA* the specific details which were mentioned in the libelous phrases prove that the writer is an insider who intended to drag my client into this case out of maliciousness. I ask the court to dismiss the case against M.T.," argued Al Kumaity.

The Briton, who was the former business editor of the libelled newspaper, pleaded not guilty and denied his charges when he defended himself in court.

Charged with abusing

According to the charge sheet, prosecutors accused M.T. of libelling the English-language newspaper and dishonouringc its management and directors over the internet. He was also charged with abusing the telecommunications system provided by etisalat (internet services) to annoy and insult the newspaper's management and directors.

Prosecution records said the defendant posted defamatory material on the newspaper's website via the e-complaint icon.

The primary judgment remains subject to appeal within 15 days.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:May 31, 2011
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