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FlyNews 3 – Butter Chicken legal battle // Alan Bates refuses Post Office compensation

Why butter chicken is at the heart of a £188,000 legal battle

The question of who invented the dish – made with tandoor-cooked chicken pieces mixed in a tomato gravy with dollops of cream and butter – will be settled in court.

It is one of India’s best-loved dishes. But butter chicken is just as contentious as it is delicious – with two Indian restaurant chains locked in a legal battle over claims to its origins. Owners of Moti Mahal, a famed Delhi restaurant, have filed a lawsuit against rival chain Daryaganj, accusing it of falsely claiming to have invented the dish as well as dal makhani, a popular lentil dish that is also laden with butter and cream.

Moti Mahal, which has counted late US president Richard Nixon and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru among its guests, claims its founder – Kundan Lal Gujral – created butter chicken before the partition of India and Pakistan. It claims the dish – made with tandoor-cooked chicken pieces mixed in a tomato gravy with dollops of cream and butter – was invented in the 1930s when the restaurant first opened in Peshawar (now in Pakistan) before it moved to Delhi.

Daryaganj, which was established in 2019 – claims a member of its founding family – Kundan Lal Jaggi – partnered with Moti Mahal’s Gujral to open the Delhi restaurant in 1947, and the dish was invented there.

It claims that gives it the right to also lay claim to the creation of the dish.

The Gujral family is seeking $240,000 (£188,000) in damages, also alleging that Daryaganj has copied the layout of Moti Mahal’s website and “the look and feel” of its restaurants.

“You cannot take away somebody’s legacy,” said Monish Gujral, managing director at Moti Mahal.

Post Office scandal: Alan Bates to refuse 'offensive' compensation offer

The former sub-postmaster described the government’s proposal as “derisory” and “cruel”.

Alan Bates, who led the campaign for justice in the Post Office Horizon scandal, says he will reject the compensation he has been offered by the government. The former sub-postmaster, whose 20-year fight inspired the ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office, told The Daily Telegraph the offer was “offensive” and “cruel”.

The government confirmed plans for “full and fair compensation” to sub-postmasters affected by the scandal in 2022.But Mr Bates said the compensation offer had been “around a sixth” of what he requested and told the newspaper: “‘Full and fair’ might be His Majesty’s government’s interpretation, but in reality the offer is derisory, offensive and after all this time, yes, cruel.

“I will absolutely be turning this offer for financial redress down.

“It’s just a terrible way to treat human beings – and I have heard from several sub-postmasters who have received similarly derisory offers, while others are still waiting.”

He said the offer had been made on Wednesday, 111 days after his claim – prepared with the help of forensic accountants engaged by his lawyers – had been submitted. Mr Bates added: “I have been in the queue along with all the others in the scheme, but if my case is an example of the way they are going to treat all cases, we may as well start looking at a legal action again and let the judiciary decide.”

Mr Bates was among more than 500 people who received an average of about £20,000 after a High Court ruling in 2019.A government spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “If any applicant to the GLO (Group Litigation Order) scheme feels that they are owed more than is being offered, we are happy to discuss the evidence with their legal advisers.

“If we can’t agree, decisions will be made by an independent panel that includes legal and accountancy experts, who ensure fair redress based on the evidence.”

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