Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi wins IS libel case

Nadhim Zahawi
Image caption Nadhim Zahawi was the MP for Stratford-on-Avon until Parliament was dissolved for next month's general election

A Conservative politician has won libel damages after it was reported he helped fund so-called Islamic State (IS).

An Iranian affiliated broadcaster said MP Nadhim Zahawi bought crude oil from the militant group and sold it to markets in Israel and Europe.

But High Court judges said the Iraqi-born Stratford-on-Avon candidate was a victim of "fake news".

He was awarded £200,000 in damages and legal costs of £138,483 against Press TV and UK-registered Press TV Ltd.

Mr Zahawi sued the English language news and documentary network - which is affiliated to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), owned by the Iranian state - over a July 2015 website article which then went viral.

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It alleged Mr Zahawi funded and profited from trade with a terrorist group by purchasing the oil at a low price and selling it on.

But Mr Zahawi, chief strategy officer of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, 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."

He said the allegations spread "like wildfire" on social media and he had to defend himself from a "profoundly embarrassing and deeply upsetting experience".

He added that it was "of particular note" the article was published the same day he criticised Iran in Parliament.

Awarding the damages at London's High Court on Thursday, Master Victoria McCloud said Mr Zahawi had been "wrongly associated by way of `fake news' on the internet, with the consequence being very significant harm to his reputation."

Neither Press TV nor Press TV Ltd defended the case and judgment was entered in default

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