LONDON: The solicitor, oath commissioner and notary public who authenticated the affidavit of Justice (retd) Rana Shamim has said that he’s prepared to appear before Pakistani courts to confirm that Rana Shamim signed the affidavit and was in his senses and under no pressure at the time of signing the document that was published in The News first under the byline of Ansar Abbasi.
In an exclusive interview with The News and Geo here, Charles Guthrie of London Notary Public confirmed that the affidavit published in The News and Jang – with redaction of a key name – was genuine and it’s the same affidavit that carries the stamp of his firm London Notary Public and name and signature of asked the London Oath Commissioner to comment on the affidavit and confirm whether it was fake or genuine, and what happened when Rana Shamim met him. Charles Guthrie said that Justice Shamim confirmed to him that he wanted to sign his affidavit, carrying claims that former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar exercised pressure on a senior judicial Islamabad High Court official to ensure that former PM Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are not given bails before the 2018 general elections.
Charles Guthrie said about Justice Rana Shamim: “He is a highly educated, intelligent man. I think he was one of the most senior judges in Pakistan in his time. He confirmed to me that ‘yes’ he understood exactly what he was swearing in his oath.”
About the affidavit published by The News and a copy of which was shared by Ansar Abbasi, The News Investigations Editor, to show to Charles Guthrie for verification, Charles Guthrie said: “This is a true and genuine paper. It was a statement made on oath to me, effectively an affidavit. The person that made it produced their passport and national identity card. They saw me alone, so it was independently made.” Guthrie also confirmed he was ready to appear at any legal forum including Islamabad High Court to confirm that Rana Shamim made and confirmed the said affidavit.
This correspondent asked the Notary Public and Oath Commissioner if Justice Shamim was under any kind of pressure or duress, Charles Guthrie replied that Justice Rana Shamim was under no pressure or compulsion and “I saw him alone at the time he made that oath with me”. Guthrie said that be it Justice Rana Shamim or anyone else, the standard procedure in England is that “we ask people if they know and understand the nature of the document they are signing and they approve of; what they are signing; that they have got the capacity of signing it; and that they have got sufficient mental capacity. And they know exactly what they are signing. That’s the usual type of checks we make before we take an oath with someone”.
He explained that “the key point is that the person has to produce the proof of identity. They have to produce, for example, either a passport or a national ID card or photo driving license and I will be satisfied they are genuinely the person they are. That’s exactly what happened here, the person (Justice Shamim) produced their passport and I believe it was a national identity card as well. They made the statement of oath independently, alone with me”.
Charles Guthrie provides services to Pakistan High Commission London and routinely verifies papers for Pakistan Foreign Office including for the National Accountability Bureau. He had attested all Panama related papers that NAB officials took from London to Pakistan in 2017. Guthrie said he was aware of the controversy caused in Pakistan. He said he will attest papers from anyone as long as it’s from a suitable source. The oath commissioner said: “I am independent and neutral. I am a non-political person. So, if the Pakistan High Commission asks me to certify true and genuine papers, I will certify them if they are true and genuine. I have done that in the past. If a person comes to me to make an oath or statement of truth, I will make him produce proper proof of identity and to see they have a proper capacity to make a statement of truth on oath.”
Guthrie explained: “Notary is an independent figure. They act for the transaction rather than the actual person making the oath or the person producing the document. Notary is an independent figure that authenticates documents and takes oaths. They are distinct from, for example, a solicitor who is acting for somebody and for a particular party. The commissioner of oath can, in the same way a county court can take in this country, take oath of individuals and notaries can do the same. It doesn’t matter which party they are particularly. They are the independent figures administering the oath.”
This reporter understands that at least three people attempted a sting operation on Charles Guthrie, paid him fees for verification of documents and then tried to obtain the story as if the affidavit was fake, as if Justice Shamim was under pressure or that the oath commissioner did something wrong. However, it didn’t work as Charles Guthrie stuck to his legal and factual position.
Charles Guthrie confirmed that has received lots of enquiries since the affidavit of Rana Shamim was made public, after being published in The News and Jang. “I know its high news in Pakistan. I will generally refuse to say anything about it other than to state what happened that the person making it was identified to me” and that Justice Rana Shamim met him “alone” at the time of making the oath.