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BBC stands by story on London flats, rejects media reports of probe against reporter

KARACHI: The BBC Urdu has dispelled reports appeared in some sections of the press claiming that it was investigating the reporter who filed the story about flats owned by Pakistan’s ruling family in Park Lane area of London.

Since media reports were going rounds on the social media that prominent British news website was probing the reporter for filing the story, BBC Urdu took to its official Twitter account on Thursday saying “There is no internal investigation into this BBC reporter (Ather Kazmi) nor this news story (When were Park Lane flats purchased, or sold?)”.

“We stand by our journalism and are satisfied that this story meets our editorial standards including accuracy and impartiality,” the BBC Urdu said in its Facebook post.

BBC had published a story about the history and ownership of flats of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family in London’s Mayfair area. But on Wednesday it was claimed on social media in Pakistan that BBC has launched an internal inquiry against its reporter Athar Kazmi,” said BBC Urdu in a statement on its website.

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“Nobody has contacted the organization with regard to the story. There is no truth in reports published in Pakistan’s social media about the inquiry into the story. BBC published this story as it met its journalistic values and editorial standards,” the statement read.

BBC, in its report, said that the Sharif family remained the only owners of the London flats since the ’90s. The two offshore companies named in the Panama Papers scandal namely Nescol and Nielson, were used to buy flats in London’s most expensive Mayfair locality in the ’90s and the ownership of the flats has remained unchanged ever since.

BBC Urdu, according to official documents available with it, say record of companies doing business in the United Kingdom reveals that when Hassan Nawaz established Flagship Investment Ltd in 2001, the address he provided at the time of registration of the company was that of his Park Lane apartment.

After the leak of Panama Papers in April 2016, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz, had accepted the family’s ownership of Nielsen and Nescoll.

Mr Hussain had said: “The Park Lane apartments in London are ours, two offshore companies, Nielsen and Nescoll, own these flats and I am the beneficial owner of these companies, working under a trust held by my sister Maryam Nawaz Sharif.”

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