Kurdish-British MP Nadhim Zahawi wins £338,000 from Iran’s Press TV – Nadhim Zahawi, director of Gulf Keystone Petroleum

LONDON,— A Kurdish-British Conservative politician Nadhim Zahawi has been awarded £338,000 after winning a libel case against an Iranian state TV broadcaster which falsely accused him of selling oil for Islamic State group IS/ISIS. Press TV said Nadhim Zahawi, the Tory candidate in Stratford On Avon, was facilitating trades between Israel and the IS group.Zahawi, a millionaire, is also a director of Gulf Keystone Petroleum GKP operating in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is considered as the most corrupted part of Iraq. Zahawi has a close and long-term relationship with Ashti Hawrami, the minister of natural resources in iraqi Kurdistan who is routinely accused of corruption.

The regime backed TV channel on its English language website in July 2015. The reports were widely shared and the High Court said the claims were ‘exceptionally grave’.

Iraqi-born Zahawi, who is running to win back his Commons seat, was awarded £200,000 in damages and more than £100,000 in costs.

Zahawi, who was a leading member of the foreign affairs select committee, said it was ‘notable’ the defamatory post was made after he criticised Iran’s ‘malign influence’.He said: ‘I hope that this libel judgment can draw a line under this episode and deter outlets such as Press TV, and by extension states such as Iran, from attempting this sort of attack on anyone again.’

After the judgement was handed down, he said: ‘Press TV, which is ultimately funded by the Iranian government, posted an article about me in July 2015 on its English language website that implied I had facilitated the trade of oil between Daesh/Isil and the State of Israel.

‘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.

‘Given my background as an Iraqi-born British citizen, the false accusations were clearly calculated to be as damaging as possible on every level.‘Despite having no basis in anything close to reality, the allegations spread like wildfire on social media and clearly some people believed them.

‘I was forced to defend myself to family members, friends, my constituents, fellow MPs, Government Whips, and both local and national media. It was a profoundly embarrassing and deeply upsetting experience for my family and me.’ In a written judgement, Master Victoria McCloud said that Zahawi’s reputation had been ‘seriously tarnished’ as a result of the false claims and that ‘he has suffered genuine and serious distress’.She also granted an injunction preventing the republication of the false story in the future.Press TV was taken off air in the UK in 2012 and restricted to the internet after broadcasting an interview with Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned journalist, which was conducted under duress.