Sharma delighted, Air India tight-lipped over London libel case

May 2nd, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 2 (IANS) Air India was tight-lipped Friday after a former executive and aide-de-camp to the president of India won 85,000 pounds in libel from a British newspaper which called him a “serial sex pest.” The London Evening Standard also faces a legal bill of about 500,000 pounds after running the story, ‘Sex shame of airline chief’, in August 2006.

A High Court ruled that Ashvini Kumar Sharma, a former army captain who was the London-based regional director for Air India’s Europe and UK offices from 2001 to 2006, was entitled to the payout because the newspaper failed to prove the article was substantially true.

“I am delighted to have been totally vindicated. There was not a shred of truth in any of the allegations made against me,” Sharma said after the verdict.

No one at Air India’s London office was prepared to talk about the issue Friday. “It’s a no-go area,” said one employee.

Sharma said that the “grossly defamatory and fundamentally false” article damaged both his reputation and his health.

He had been shunned and the article had upset his wife of 25 years and their two adult children.

A spokesman for the Evening Standard said: “The question of appeal is being considered with our lawyers. The court has given us 14 days to decide this.”

Associated Newspapers denied libel and claimed that the article was substantially true.

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