Last month, journalists from The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Mediapart contacted Mr Nasser Al Khelaifi, the President of Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, requesting his response in relation to a document which they alleged bore his signature and which they claimed had been written over 8 years ago on ORYX letterhead relating to the alleged payment of commission to an agent involved in the transfer of Javier Pastore.
Mr Al Khelaifi believed that he could not have written or signed such a document and his lawyers therefore wrote to the journalists in question on 21 June:
- Indicating that we had concerns regarding the authenticity of this supposed document and the information it purportedly contained.
- Asking therefore that the journalists provide us with a copy of the document on which they relied so as to enable Mr Al Khelaifi to provide a considered and informed response to their questions.
Although that request was in keeping with all generally recognised principles of fairness and responsible journalism, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Mediapart refused to provide a copy of the document on which they relied, claiming that they could not do so without disclosing the identity of their source.
It is now clear that this explanation was untrue. Mediapart illustrated its article on the subject yesterday with a full copy of the purported letter in question and, in doing so, did nothing whatsoever to reveal the identity of its source. The document includes nothing that discloses the identity of the person(s) who provided it to the journalists and their refusal to provide a copy to Mr Al Khelaifi prior to publication can therefore only be explained on the basis that they did not wish him to have an opportunity to rebut a story that they had already decided to publish.
Now that it is to hand, it is clear that the document relied upon by The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Mediapart is a forgery and was not written or signed by Mr Al Khelaifi. He will therefore be filing a criminal complaint for forgery and the use of forged material in France.
Read the full press release here.
Cameron Doley (Carter-Ruck, London) and Francis Szpiner and Renaud Semerdjian (Stas & Associés, Paris) are lawyers acting for Nasser Al Khelaifi.