Top dailies admit making false claims against Muslim scout leader

24th Apr 2020

Hamed Chapman

The Times has followed the Daily TelegraphThe Mail and The Star in being forced to pay ‘substantial damages’ after admitting they made false claims about a London mosque and its event coordinator Ahammed Hussain.

“We accept these allegations are false and apologise to Mr Hussain for these errors and the distress caused by them. We have agreed to pay damages and costs,” the latest retraction published by The Times said last month.

Like the others, it apologised for making false allegations that he promoted extremism in his position as a scout leader at Lewisham Islamic Centre, where he was supposed to have breached rules to separate children by gender. Its assertion that he had a ‘history of association with antisemitic organisations’ was also incorrectly asserted.

Similar admissions have already been issued by the other dailies, making it more than a year to obtain legal redress against the defamation of Hussain’s character as well as against the mosque that were first published in January 2019 in the Daily Telegraph.

“In hindsight, I can see that this failed attack on my character was a desperate attempt to undermine the good work that Muslim Scouts groups do generally, and mosques like Lewisham Islamic Centre in particular. At the time though, having my name smeared across four national newspapers and news sites was a shocking experience,” he said in a statement.

His solicitor, Zillur Rahman, of Rahman Lowe Solicitors, also said that “once more we see the media using false extremism allegations to attack someone whose civic service they should be applauding.” It was “disappointing to see national newspapers yet again running libellous stories that create hysteria about a particular community, in this instance the Muslim community.”

The false allegations are understood to have been based upon claims made by the extreme right-wing Henry Jackson Society and in particular the director of its ‘Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism’ Nikita Malik, who gloated in a now-deleted tweet about the front-page story but as yet neither are thought to have issued their apologies for the false claims.

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