FIVE witnesses were called by Gwent Conservative AM Mohammad Asghar yesterday as he pursues libel action with another man against five members of the Newport Muslim community.
In a civil hearing held at Newport Crown Court, the former chairman of Jamia Mosque and Al Noor Mosque, Sultan Ahmed, from Newcastle, was the first witness to give evidence for the AM in his case against Manzoor Ahmed, Farzand Ali, Shokat Butt, Mohammed Ali Hayat and Javed Javed.
On the first day of the case the AM told the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, that a dossier of newspaper cuttings and allegations was sent by at least one of the respondents to damage him and the second claimant, Abdul Rahman Mujahid.
He claims it was sent to a number of prominent politicians in January 2012.
The AM told the court it contained allegations that were “totally, totally wrong”.
The second witness was Media Wales reporter Martin Shipton who has covered the case.
When questioned by Clare Kissin, for Mr Ahmed and Mr Ali, and cross examined by Mr Hayat who was representing himself, Mr Shipton denied receiving any documents other than court information.
The third witness, Mohammed Javed Mujahid, the son of the second claimant, confirmed he attended a meeting at Newport Leisure centre along with 50 to 70 others on January 8, 2012, at which he claimed there was a petition for change in the mosque, which he did not sign.
The fourth witness was Omer Mian, assistant secretary of the two mosques, who said he became aware of the allegations against Abdul Rahman Mujahid in August 2011 and at the January meeting a membership form and a petition form were left on chairs.
The final witness was Mian Abdul Rashid, deputy chairman of Newport East’s Conservative party, who accused the AM of blackmail when he claimed he was forced to sign a retraction from a statement made in December 2011.
The court heard Mr Rashid made a statement supporting a group of Muslims – including the respondents – who were seeking an injunction to stop Mr Asghar “causing trouble” at two mosques in Newport.