A WITNESS called to court by a Gwent assembly member taking libel action against five men was accused of giving false evidence due to an alleged grudge he holds against one of them.

Mohammed Tariq, a shopkeeper in Cardiff, was called to a High Court hearing in Newport to give evidence in South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar’s libel case.

Mr Asghar and his friend, Abdul Rahman Mujahid, are suing five members of the Muslim community over defamatory allegations made on a website, in a newsletter and in a dossier handed to Welsh Conservative party leader Andrew RT Davies.

Action is being brought against Manzoor Ahmed, Farzand Ali, Shokat Bhutt, Mohammed Ali Hayat and Javed Javed, although the fifth respondent did not attend court for a second day yesterday.

Mr Hayat accused Mr Tariq, who is a director of the Muslim Educational Welfare Society of Wales, of lying in court to protect Mr Mujahid, who is the chairman of his society.

Mr Tariq said he had seen respondents with a bundle of documents at a public meeting and the dossier, allegedly containing libellous material, was given to him by Mr Javed in his shop.

Having spoken to Mr Mujahid, he said he was reassured the allegations were false.

Mr Tariq said: “I told them (Mr Asghar and Mr Mujahid) of my concern...obviously his credibility is definitely damaged so I said let me know about these allegations.”

Mr Hayat accused him of lying and alleged Mr Tariq still held a grudge against him after he criticised him for being given a police community award in 2007, which Mr Tariq denied. Mr Hayat told the court, “You came here today to get your revenge on me”, which Mr Tariq again denied.