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The Times pays Muslim charity £50K after false human trafficking claims

14th May 2021
The Times pays Muslim charity £50K after false human trafficking claims

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Times newspaper agreed to pay £50,000 and legal costs to a Muslim charity and its leader Imam Qasim Ahmad it falsely accused of colluding with human smugglers. 

A High Court statement on April 29 said The Times had agreed to make the payment to the international Muslim aid NGO the Al-Khair Foundation after an article on Somali migrants trying to reach Europe was published on December 10, 2020, in the newspaper and online. 

The statement says The Times accepted the article, which appeared under the headline ‘Greece accuses charities of helping human traffickers to smuggle migrants’ , would have been understood by readers to suggest that the charity had colluded with criminal human traffickers who were assisting Somali migrants trying to reach Europe from Turkey, thereby putting their lives at risk. 

This included an incident that led to the deaths of 34 Somalis in the Mediterranean.The statement says the newspaper has withdrawn the articles and accepted they were both defamatory and untrue. 

It has also published an apology to the charity and its trustees and agreed to pay damages and legal costs to Al-Khair and Imam Qasim, its founding trustee. 

The agreed statement says “neither Al-Khair nor Imam Qasim have ever been involved in or provided any support for, the reprehensible and criminal activities, which were the subject of the articles, and there is no basis whatsoever for suspecting them of having done so”. 

A spokesperson for the charity was unable to confirm how much the charity’s legal costs had amounted to in the case. The charity, which was founded by Qasim in 2003, has distributed almost £200 million in aid across the world over the past decade.

Al-Khair’s CEO Shuaib Yusaf told The Muslim News, “This represents a resounding victory for Al-Khair Foundation, and also for the sector, whereby a major broadsheet newspaper has been challenged and held to account and capitulated.”

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