Wales politics

Mohammad Asghar libel case: AM awarded £45,000 damages

Tory AM, Mohammad Asghar
Image caption Tory AM, Mohammad Asghar, has been awarded £45,000 in libel damages

A Welsh assembly member has been awarded £45,000 in libel damages by a High Court judge, but could face significant legal costs.

Mohammad Asghar, Conservative AM for South Wales East, had accused four Newport men of defamation.

It followed a dispute over the running of two mosques in the city.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker has now cleared three of the men but ordered Mohammad Ali Hayat to pay Mr Asghar and a co-claimant five-figure damages each.

The defamatory claims, made in a newsletter, on a website, and in a file handed to the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies, suggested Mr Asghar and his co-claimant Abdul Mujahid were involved in criminality and corruption.

'Quite happy'

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker heard a trial on the issues at Newport Crown Court and Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, last year.

In his judgment, handed down on Thursday, the judge said the false claims caused "very significant distress and damage to the claimants' reputation".

The judge cleared defendants Manzoor Ahmad, Farzand Ali and Shokat Butt of any wrongdoing but found Mr Hayat liable for damages.

But Mr Asghar and Mr Mujahid may now face a large legal bill.

A costs hearing will be held to decide how the bill - which could run to tens of thousands of pounds - should be divided between the parties.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Asghar said he was "quite happy" with the outcome, adding "we'll have to see what happens" with regards to the costs.

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