ANI misreports UK High Court ruling on Vijay Mallya’s London home

On the evening of November 22, news agency Asian News International (ANI) tweeted that the High Court of London has ruled in favour of Swiss banking firm UBS to take possession of disgraced liquor baron and fugitive Vijay Mallya’s plush home in Central London.

UBS had gone to court against Vijay Mallya to seek possession of the mansion after Mallya reportedly failed to repay the 20.4 million pound mortgage loan on the property. While Mallya faces an uphill battle to save his family home from risk of foreclosure, ANI jumped the gun. There has been no such ruling from the UK High Court. This was pointed out by Vidya Ram, London based correspondent with The Hindu.

Times of India has reported that in a setback to Mallya’s legal defence, “chief master Marsh of the business and property courts of the high court in London threw out the majority of arguments Mallya and his co-defendants had put forward in their amended defence dated May 11, 2018 to cling onto their prized home. A 10-day trial is scheduled to take place from May 7, 2019.”

In other words, the trial to decide the fate of the property will take place only next year in May and the ruling is with regard to the arguments presented by Mallya’s legal team, scores of which were struck down for being unsustainable. Times of India further reports that “UBS had put in an application on August 9, 2018 to strike out certain parts of the amended defence. On Wednesday chief master Marsh ruled that all except one of them should be “struck out” as they were “bound to fail”.

The inaccuracy of ANI’s news update was also pointed out by Naomi Canton, who filed the Times of India report from London.

ANI’s tweet was posted at 6:47 pm on November 22. Half an hour later, the news agency posted another tweet with the correct information, amending the original tweet, which was online at the time of writing this piece.

ANI news flash becomes basis of media reports

ANI‘s erroneous news flash was expectedly picked up by multiple news organisations which reported that Mallya is set to lose his London mansion after the High Court in London ruled the same. This was reported by The New Indian Express, Asian Age and also flashed by The Quint, Business Standard and NDTV, among others. They have credited this news to ANI.

On the other hand, the popular Hindi publication Dainik Bhaskar reported that the UK High Court has permitted UBS to take possession of Mallya’s London home, although the article did mention that the trial will take place in 2019. Divya Bhaskar which is a Gujarati newspaper and part of the DNA group, reported on its front page that Mallya’s London house, worth Rs. 195 crore, has been seized. BTVI also broadcast that #London High Court has ruled in favour of UBS to take possession of Mallya’s London house.” India TV also reported that the court has ordered seizure of the property.

What must be noted over here is that while the titles of these news reports mention that the High Court has ruled against Mallya, attributing this information to ANI, the content of the reports is specific, and states that trial will take place next year and Wednesday’s ruling was with regard to UBS’ application to the court seeking to strike down portions of Mallya’s amended defence.

ANI has been caught on the wrong foot on multiple occasions over its reportage. This was yet another error which did not go unnoticed.

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