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AI executive wins case against UK newspaper

London, May 1
A senior Air India executive has won a libel case against a British eveninger over false accusations that he sexually harassed a female colleague and was a “serial sex pest”.

Capt Ashwini Kumar Sharma, an army captain and former aide-de-camp to the Indian president who is now an executive director of the airline at its Mumbai headquarters, has been awarded £85,000 in damages and £500,000 in cost.

However, the high court judge granted a “stay” on payment, pending a possible application by the newspaper for permission to appeal.

Hailing the verdict Captain Sharma said, “I am delighted to have been totally vindicated. There was not a shred of truth in any of the allegations made against me. This is exactly what I said on the day the article was published.” “I am extremely grateful to my legal team and to the jury and the justice process in this country,” he said.

During the eight-day trial, Captain Sharma, who was the regional director of Air India in charge of UK and Ireland, said: “the grossly defamatory and fundamentally false” front page article in The Evening Standard headlined “Sex Shame of Airline Chief”, damaged both his reputation and health.

His lawyer Ian Winter told the court, the August 2006 article led to his client being shunned in Britain.

The article appeared shortly before the end of Captain Sharma’s four-year tenure in London. The police told Sharma, that a female ground services employee had made a complaint against him, but an investigation saw no charges brought, Winter told the court. — PTI



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