Saturday, 4 June 2011

Media Misdemeanour

Miss L. Lane asks if anyone has any further information or comment on this 30th May story from The National:
A British journalist was acquitted this morning of defaming an English-language newspaper in Dubai and describing its management as unethical and immoral.

MT, 49-year-old former business editor of the newspaper, denied the charges in the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors Court in September 2010. Prosecutors had said he described the newspaper's management as "driven by sex and money".

MT wrote on the newspaper's website that women who failed to get jobs at the newspaper had claimed they were rejected because they didn't have sex with the managers.

MT was also accused of abusing the Etisalat telecommunications system to hassle the newspaper's management and directors, as well as insulting by posting defamatory material using the paper's website.

At the time of the incident, an Egyptian manager at the paper lodged a complaint at Bur Dubai Police Station. He told police that an internet user had posted defamatory material on their website.

About a month later, the newspaper identified MT and reported him to police.

The verdict is subject to appeal within 15 days.


Anonymous said...

Does this mean the court accepted as truth that "women who failed to get jobs at the newspaper had claimed they were rejected because they didn't have sex with the managers" or accepted that MT didn't make the comments, or it couldn't be proved that he did.

Perhaps Mr Townsend or the Khaleej Times can confirm for us which.

(or the National reporter can write a story that answers questions, instead of being so vague as to pose more questions than it answers!!)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm not from the UAE, so please help me understand this: why hasn't the National named the Dubai newspaper and the British reporter (MT???) in this story?
Is that like a standard journalism practice in the UAE? Who do they risk annoying (by naming) in this case?

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous at 16.23 - please correct me if I am wrong but, as I understand it, there is a three tier process to the legal system here - the Court of First Instance, the Appeals Court and the Cessation Court.
Cases initially get dealt with at the first court, inevitably either the prosecution or the defence is unhappy with the verdict and appeals as a matter of course, and then someone then appeals again, ensuring any legal battle is an expensive, long drawn out process adding to the misery of the innocent, giving a lifeline to the guilty, and more cash to the lawyers.
The press here will only name people after the final (third) court decision - presumably because only then are they definitely guilty with all avenues of appeal exhausted!
I suspect the origins lie in the tribal nature of the local population whereby if someone is named then it brings shame on the whole family or tribe - hence the press aren't allowed to name and shame like they do in every other part of the world.
The same rules also have to apply to everyone else - hence, because an appeal could be filed within 15days, Mark Townsend and the Khaleej Times weren't named in the piss poor, ambiguous story that prompted this thread (if you filed that copy in the UK you would be receiving subs queries all night as there are that many unanswered questions - sadly it gets printed as is here due to the poor quality of the press!).
If anyone out there (lawyer, court reporter etc) knows the true legal position on the naming and shaming of defendants (or the naming of the acquitted innocent) under UAE Law I would be very keen to hear...thanks.

Anonymous said...

It is standard practice to use initials, even in cases where elsewhere the defendant would never be named.
Swings and roundabouts.

Like anywhere else, straight reports on court cases tend to read much duller than other stories.