LONDON: A senior British Muslim politician has won his case against a major UK media company over an online article published in August 2018, accusing him of appearing at a “hate conference” in Tunisia.
Baron Mohamed Iltaf Sheikh, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, successfully sued Associated Newspapers Ltd. (ANL) for libel after it ran an article on its website MailOnline under the headline: “EXCLUSIVE: Top Tory peer’s appearance at Corbyn’s ‘hate conference’ in Tunisia comes after YEARS of rubbing shoulders with Islamists, hate preachers and Holocaust deniers.”
The article was published under the byline of MailOnline’s Associate Global Editor Jake Wallis Simons, and referred to a 2014 conference in Tunis, the International Conference on Monitoring the Palestinian Political and Legal Situation in the Light of Israeli Aggression, where it was alleged Jeremy Corbyn MP, the former leader of the Labour party, participated in a wreath-laying ceremony for deceased members of a Palestinian terrorist group, the Black September Organization.
On Thursday, Lord Sheikh’s solicitor, Callum Galbraith, told the High Court in London that the Tory life peer, had been invited to speak at the conference held shortly after hostilities had broken out between Israel and Hamas in the 2014 Gaza War, which Israel called Operation protective Edge, and which resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 people.
In his speech, Lord Sheikh had advocated, consistent with UK government policy, that to achieve a lasting peace, a two-state solution should provide security for the state of Israel and respect for the rights of the Palestinian people. Lord Sheikh was neither involved in, nor aware of, the wreath-laying ceremony until 2018.
Galbraith informed the court that ANL accepted “there was and is no truth in the allegations advanced in the article” and that it was “happy to set the record straight and apologize” to Lord Sheikh.
After the hearing, Lord Sheikh, who became a life peer in 2006, said: “I have consistently sought to promote interracial and interfaith understanding, tolerance and respect. I am a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, and I have always spoken out against anti-semitism.
“To find myself accused by a newspaper of the very conduct which I have always opposed was profoundly hurtful. I am delighted to have been able finally to clear my name from these shocking and unfounded allegations, and thank my legal team … for their constant support in what, for me, has been a very difficult and distressing time.”