Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari v Syed Tauqeer Bukhari

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMrs Justice Steyn DBE
Judgment Date01 March 2023
Neutral Citation[2023] EWHC 427 (KB)
Docket NumberCase No: QB-2020-001139
CourtKing's Bench Division
Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari
Syed Tauqeer Bukhari

[2023] EWHC 427 (KB)


THE HON. Mrs Justice Steyn DBE

Case No: QB-2020-001139




Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Claire Overman (instructed by Stone White Solicitors) for the Claimant

The Defendant appeared in person and was not represented

Hearing dates: 23 January 2023

Approved Judgment

This judgment was handed down remotely at 10.30am on 1 March 2023 by circulation to the parties or their representatives by e-mail and by release to the National Archives.

THE HON. Mrs Justice Steyn DBE

Mrs Justice Steyn DBE Mrs Justice Steyn DBE

A. Introduction


The claimant and the defendant are cousins. The claimant is a dual British and Pakistani national, currently based in Pakistan where he was formerly an adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. He is also a very well known businessman in the United Kingdom. The defendant lives in England. This judgment follows a hearing of the claimant's application for an order striking out the defendant's defence, or alternatively entering summary judgment for the claimant, on his claim for libel and harassment.

B. History of the proceedings


The claim was issued and served on 20 March 2020, together with Particulars of Claim. The two causes of action relied on were libel and harassment. In respect of the harassment claim, the claimant relied on 249 tweets published by the defendant on Twitter in the period from early September 2019 to 20 March 2020, and 21 videos published during the same period. The claimant relied on a subset of these publications in respect of the libel claim.


The defendant filed an acknowledgment of service on 20 March 2020. On 19 May 2020, the parties signed a draft consent order, which was approved by Master Gidden on 29 May 2020, giving directions for the determination of certain matters as preliminary issues, including the meaning of the statements complained of. The consent order extended the time for service of a defence until 28 days after the court's determination of the preliminary issues. However, before that order was sealed (on 20 June 2020) a conflicting order was made by Nicol J on 12 June 2020 (who appears not to have been made aware of Master Gidden's order) directing a case management hearing.


On 28 July 2020, Soole J set aside the consent order with a view to the matter being considered at a case management hearing in accordance with Nicol J's order. On 21 December 2020, following a case management hearing on 30 October 2020, Julian Knowles J gave directions for a trial of preliminary issues in respect of the libel claim, as to (i) the natural and ordinary meaning of each statement complained of, (ii) whether that meaning is defamatory at common law; and (iii) whether the statement is a statement of fact or opinion. His judgment sets out more fully the procedural history up to December 2020: [2020] EWHC 3469 (QB), [11]–[30]. When the matter was considered by Julian Knowles J, the claimant made clear that in the libel claim only 58 tweets and 13 videos were complained of as defamatory. The defendant was ordered to pay costs of £6,820 as no good reason for his change of position had been advanced.


At the hearing before Julian Knowles J, the defendant had been represented by specialist counsel. On 12 January 2021 he dismissed his legal representatives and has since been acting in person in respect of this claim.


The trial of those preliminary issues was heard by Murray J on 14 June 2021. He gave judgment on 1 February 2022: [2022] EWHC 173 (QB). In the circumstances described by Murray J at [16], “ in the interests of proportionality”, the claimant reduced the number of tweets and videos relied on in the libel claim to 32 and 8, respectively. By an order dated 1 February 2022, Murray J determined that the statements complained of bore the following meanings:

Tweet/Video No.

Natural and ordinary meaning

T16, T171, T172, T180, T206 and V15 (embedded in T210)

The claimant is corrupt

T18, T185, T201 and V17 (embedded in T218)

The claimant is dishonest


The claimant is a criminal


The claimant is a thief

T166, V13 (embedded in T165, T166, T187, T193)

The claimant is guilty of fraud


The claimant is corrupt; the claimant is dishonest

V14 (embedded in T194, T195, T198, T216)

The claimant is corrupt; the claimant is a thief


The claimant is corrupt; the claimant is guilty of fraud

T103, V5 (embedded in T84, T85, T101)

The claimant is dishonest; the claimant is guilty of fraud


The claimant is dishonest; the claimant stole the defendant's assets


The claimant stole from the defendant's father


The claimant stole the defendant's assets

T50, V2 (embedded in T50, T201, T228)

The claimant has committed a fraud against, and stolen land and valuables from the defendant's father

T53, T142, T228

The claimant has stolen land and valuables from the defendant's father

T9, T63, T74

The claimant dishonestly pretends to have made his money as a businessman when in fact his wealth is derived from family money obtained from illegal activity.


The claimant's source of income is from human trafficking


The claimant manages illegal activities for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

T117, V10 (embedded in T117)

The claimant has been guilty of threatening the defendant

T119, V12 (embedded in T119)

The claimant has used thugs to threaten the defendant


After the defendant exposed his corruption, the claimant was responsible for an attack on the defendant and for the defendant's aged parents being threatened by gangsters


After the defendant exposed his corruption, the claimant staged an attack on the defendant's home in London


Murray J found that two of the statements complained of in the libel action (T198 and T216) were statements of opinion and not defamatory at common law. The remaining statements complained of, the meanings of which are referred to above, were all found to be statements of fact and defamatory at common law. By an order dated 8 February 2022, Murray J ordered the defendant to pay £21,500 costs as the defendant had not taken a realistic approach to the trial, resulting in a large portion of the costs of the trial that would otherwise have been avoided, and the claimant was overwhelmingly the successful party.


On 14 February 2022, in the light of Murray J's determinations, the claimant filed Amended Particulars of Claim (‘AmPoC’).


In accordance with the time limit imposed in Murray J's order of 1 February 2022, the defendant filed a defence on 7 March 2022. The claimant initially asked the defendant to agree an extension of time for his reply, on the basis that the defendant had served a 54 page ‘purported defence’ which would take time to consider. As the defendant did not respond to letters of 11 and 15 March 2022, the claimant issued an application on 16 March 2022. On 17 March 2022, the defendant declined to agree an extension of time. Master Gidden made an order on 18 March 2022 extending time for the claimant to file and serve his reply to 14 April 2022, and ordering the defendant to pay costs of £3,750.


On 24 March 2022, the claimant's solicitors wrote to the defendant:

“We have now had an opportunity to review your Defence in detail. It is clear to us from this review that your Defence is non-compliant with numerous important rules and pleading requirements, As a result of this non-compliance, it is not presently possible for a Reply to be pleaded in response to your Defence. Nor, in any event, would it be appropriate or proportionate to do so given the extent of the defects in your Defence as currently pleaded.

The purpose of this letter is to put you on notice of the ways in which your Defence is currently non-compliant, and to afford you an opportunity to remedy these.”


The letter outlined the requirements of CPR 16.5, Practice Direction 16, para 10.2, Practice Direction 53B, paras 2.1, 4.3–4.5 and 10.4, and referred to guidance given by the courts in Foley v Lord Ashcroft [2012] EMLR 25, Bokova v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2018] EWHC 2032 (QB), Riley v Murray [2021] EWHC 3437 (QB) and Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon [2021] EMLR 7. It then identified what the claimant described as the key issues rendering the Defence non-compliant, before inviting the defendant to remedy the defects by providing a draft amended defence.


In response, the defendant engaged legal representatives to assist with the drafting of an amended defence and he agreed an extension of time for the claimant's Reply. On 6 May 2022, the defendant provided the claimant's solicitors with his draft Amended Defence (‘AmDef’).


On 10 May 2022, the claimant's solicitors wrote to the defendant seeking further information:

“In order to assist our client to better understand your proposed case, please provide the following information:

1. As to paragraph 22 of the draft amended defence, please identify and give details of the land transfers referred to.

2. As to paragraph 24 of the draft amended defence, please identify and give details of the monetary transactions and land transfers referred to.

3. As to paragraph 28 of the draft amended defence, please provide details of what you have allegedly been told by our client's sister and cousin.”


The defendant has provided two responses to the request for further information. He first responded on 12 May 2022 that in relation to paragraphs 22 and 24 of the draft Amended Defence, your client and his father are well aware and informed of … all the details of the transactions and land transfers in Punjab Pakistan and London United Kingdom. With respect...

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