Libel judge rejects top cop's claims MP 'lied in court'

THE country's leading libel judge, Lord Justice Eady, has rejected claims made by Chief Insp Keith Hallas that Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Shahid Malik was untruthful while giving evidence in the High Court during his defamation case in November last year.

In written evidence to the judge in February Det Chief Insp Keith Hallas, who was a defence witness in The Press newspaper libel trial in November, accused Mr Malik of telling lies.

In addition, Det Chief Insp Hallas said Mr Malik’s evidence resulted in him being off work sick for two months.

In his February letter to Lord Justice Eady, Det Chief Insp Hallas said that Mr Malik’s evidence damaged his health and his reputation.

During the trial Mr Malik said during a conversation Mr Hallas had inferred to Mr Malik that he had been bullied into giving evidence in court.

Mr Hallas said in his February letter to the judge that Mr Malik’s claim was a total fabrication but Mr Malik maintained that Det Chief Insp Hallas had said it.

Following both the new evidence presented by Mr Hallas, and the judge’s review of the transcripts of evidence given in the case in November, Lord Justice Eady said Mr Malik did not attempt to mislead the jury. As such the claim by Mr Hallas and The Press was rejected and the judge stated he would not be referring Mr Malik for perjury.

In a stinging ruling Mr Justice Eady said Mr Hallas’ claim at being sick due to Mr Malik’s comments seemed surprising given Mr Hallas was a senior and long-serving officer and especially since Mr Hallas himself told the jury in November that he was not the sort of person to succumb to bullying or pressure.

On hearing of Lord Justice Eady’s decision Mr Malik said: “I am delighted but certainly not surprised by the outcome, although to be honest I am surprised that Det Chief Insp Hallas is apparently still off work sick some seven months later with pay.”

In November Lord Justice Eady ruled in favour of Mr Malik giving him victory on three of the four defences that the newspaper had put forward against Mr Malik’s defamation claim, with the jury being unable to arrive at a majority verdict on the fourth defence.

A police spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.