Minister drops his libel claim against newspaper

A GOVERNMENT minister has dropped his libel claim against a Yorkshire newspaper, its editor and a former councillor after the parties reached an out-of-court agreement.

Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury had sued the Dewsbury Press publishers, NewsPost Ltd, its former editor Danny Lockwood and former Kirklees councillor Jonathan Scott over a letter written by Mr Scott, and a subsequent interview published in the newspaper in May, 2006.

Last year, a High Court trial failed to reach a verdict and a retrial was listed to begin in July.

However, the parties have now reached agreement with no costs order being made against either side.

In an agreed statement, Mr Scott said: “I am happy to make clear that my letter was never intended to accuse Mr Malik of orchestrating gangs of thugs or playing the race card.

“This was an interpretation some people placed upon my letter and subsequent article, an interpretation with which I disagreed.”

Mr Malik, Minister for International Development, said: “I am very pleased that after a discussion with Danny Lockwood, he has been able to give me the assurances I required.”

Mr Lockwood said: “We want to make it clear that we never accused Shahid of any impropriety whatsoever during the elections.”