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MP successfully sues Iranian website over ISIL oil allegations

Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon.
Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon.

STRATFORD-ON-AVON MP Nadhim Zahawi is set to be paid damages by Press TV, an organisation affiliated to the Iranian state broadcaster, after he successfully sued them over claims he facilitated the sale of oil between ISIL and Israel.

The story that appeared on Press TV's English language website in July last year was "deeply upsetting, worrying and unexpected", Mr Zahawi said today, Thursday.

The Iranian broadcaster did not defend the libel action and the High Court in London will rule on damages and costs at a later hearing.

Mr Zahawi moved to the UK from Iraq as a young boy.

He told the Herald: "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 ISIL was seemingly unbelievable.

"The accusation was clearly calculated to be as damaging as possible to someone from my background.

“Despite having no basis in anything close to reality, except for my having been born in Iraq, rumours spread like wildfire on social media and clearly some people believed them.

"In my role as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have often spoken out against the malign influence Iran has so often chosen to exercise in international affairs. But it was extremely upsetting, worrying and unexpected to have been targeted by a foreign government in this way.

“This has been a deeply upsetting experience for me. I hope that this libel judgment can draw a line under this episode, and deter outlets such as Press TV from attempting this sort of attack, on anyone, again."

MP to bank £1.4m in company sale?

The Guardian has reported today, Thursday, that Mr Zahawi stands to make £1.4million if the rumoured sale of the Kurdistan-based oil company he works goes through.

It says that Gulf Keystone is in talks to be bought out by China’s state-owned oil company Sinopec for around £350million.

The report refers to public documents released following Gulf Keystone's AGM earlier week that show Mr Zahawi, who is paid £240,000 a year as chief strategy officer for the company, has been granted 'performance units'.

And that, the newspaper claims, puts his stake and that of two other directors as being worth two per cent if the business is sold in the next year, putting the MP’s share at £1.4m, a fifth of the directors’ pot.

Mr Zahawi joined Gulf Keystone in July 2015 last year.

As well as his salary he has also been receiving regular bonus payments of up to £26,000 for advising the company.

Mr Zahawi has yet to comment on the Guardian story.

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