A GWENT Assembly Member taking libel action with another man against five members of the Newport Muslim community told a court on Monday that allegations in a number of publications could have destroyed his career.
In a civil hearing held at Newport Crown Court, South Wales East Conservative AM Mohammad Asghar told the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, on the first day of his libel case that a dossier of newspaper cuttings and allegations was sent by at least one of the defendants in the case to damage him and his friend, Abdul Rahman Mujahid.
He claims it was sent to a number of prominent national politicians, including the then Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, Home Secretary Theresa May and the Welsh Conservative Party leader at the Assembly, Andrew RT Davies, in January 2012.
The AM told the court it contained allegations that were “totally, totally wrong”.
Mr Asghar said the dossier alleged that “I was involved in money laundering, that I was a criminal.”
He added: “It was a character assassination.
“It was the worst thing in my career.
“It could have destroyed my career.”
Mr Asghar and Mr Mujahid allege the documents “incited hatred” and their action is being brought against five men: Manzoor Ahmed, Farzand Ali, Shokat Butt, Mohammed Ali Hayat and Javed Javed, who was ill and did not attend court yesterday.
Clare Kissin, for Mr Ahmed and Mr Ali, asked Mr Asghar: “When Mr Davies gave you the dossier, presumably you asked where it had come from?”
He said: “I was out of the country and within a few days Andrew RT called me to go to the office and he pulled out the drawer and put this dossier in front of me.
“I could not believe it.
“And he said: ‘Oscar, what is this?’ I said I didn’t know. (Mr Davies said): ‘There’s something (in the dossier)not very nice about you — do something about it.’”
Mr Asghar said Mr Davies did not take any further action against him.
One of the respondents, Mohammed Ali Hayat, whom Mr Asghar alleges gave the dossier to Mr Davies, asked whether Mr Asghar would be hurt if he was labelled a “serial defector” from political parties. Mr Asghar said he would.
Mr Asghar told the court: “I wanted to go into politics.
“I am a graduate in politics.
“I tried and thank God it worked.”
Asked about his previous defections from the Labour and Plaid Cymru parties, he told the court that: “In this country even Churchill changed parties.”
The AM had asked for the case to be adjourned so he and his co-claimant could find legal representation and because Mr Mujahid had been in the Royal Gwent Hospital on Monday with kidney problems.
But Mr Justice Baker refused to delay the case because no further medical evidence had been provided to him to suggest Mr Mujahid was unable to attend court.
The judge also denied a delay on the grounds that Mr Asghar was without legal representation on the grounds he had had enough time to arrange it since the date for the hearing was set in March.
He added he was happy there would be no risk of prejudice if Mr Asghar represented himself.