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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Dubai reporter cleared of defaming American talent agency boss

Mazhar Farooqui, editor of Xpress newspaper, wrote a story based on a police report filed against the producer for allegedly assaulting a 15-year-old girl during a talent show

A reporter has been cleared of defaming an American talent agency boss accused of assaulting a child during a talent competition held in Dubai.

Mazhar Farooqui, who works for the Gulf News-affiliated Xpress newspaper, attended the talent show at a hotel in Jumeirah Beach Residence in May 2017.

He met a Pakistani TV show host whose daughter was taking part in the competition.

Farooqui testified that he saw the woman and her 15-year-old daughter crying and surrounded by police officers. When he approached them the host told him she had filed a complaint with police against the American for assaulting her daughter.

The woman told Farooqui that the American agency boss grabbed her daughter by her arms and threw her to the ground. A medical report from Rashid Hospital showed that the girl had bruises on her shoulders.

The woman gave him on an interview, a copy of the police she filed at Barsha police station and a copy of her daughter’s medical report.

Farooqui, an Indian national and well-known journalist who edits Xpress, then contacted the casting agency for a comment before publishing the story few days later.

The American - who was never named in the article - then filed a complaint against Farooqui, accusing him of defamation.

During police and prosecution questioning, Farooqui denied defaming the man.

On March 12, during his first appearance at Dubai Court of Misdemeanours before presiding judge Ayman Abdul Hakam, Farooqui denied a charge of defamation.

And on Monday Judge Hakam acquitted Farooqui, saying there was no evidence of criminal intent not breach of privacy,

The judge said he had only reported a legitimate police complaint made about an incident that happened in a public place. The judge said that, despite the fact that both parties involved had settled the dispute and reconciled, the report still existed in police records.