Muslim politician Lord Sheikh wins UK press lawsuit 

Baron Mohamed Iltaf Sheikh is a Conservative member of the House of Lords. (Courtesy LordSheikh.com)
Short Url
Updated 30 July 2020

Muslim politician Lord Sheikh wins UK press lawsuit 

  • Lord Sheikh: I have consistently sought to promote interracial and interfaith understanding, tolerance and respect
  • Lord Sheikh: To find myself accused by a newspaper of the very conduct which I have always opposed was profoundly hurtful

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.”


Lebanese news agency boycotts politicians’ press conferences, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

Updated 07 August 2020

Lebanese news agency boycotts politicians’ press conferences, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

  • The Lebanese news agency LBCI has said it will no longer provide coverage of any politician’s press conference, including Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
  • “Let your accomplishments speak for you and don’t distract people with storytelling,” an LBCI presenter said

LONDON: The Lebanese news agency LBCI has said it will no longer provide coverage of any politician’s press conference, including Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, following Tuesday’s massive explosions.

“The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International decided that what comes after Aug. 4 is not like what came before,” a presenter announced on live television on Friday.

“Because after the earthquake is not the same as before, because your (Lebanese government) neglect and failure is one of the main reasons for what we have come to ... because after Aug. 4, we need actions and not words, achievements and not speeches.

“Let your accomplishments speak for you and don’t distract people with storytelling,” she said.

“Finally, we tell people: While you are waiting for the speeches of your leaders, there are mothers who are waiting for the return of their children from the rubble — the priority is for them, not for you.”

Many Lebanese welcomed LBCI’s announcement, with several taking to social media to praise the move — especially given that Nasrallah spoke at a press conference at 5:30 p.m. local time, his first address since the blasts.

“Not only Nasrallah, but all speeches, by all parties. They are nothing more than propaganda. They own their own propaganda bullhorns, so let them use those to address their sheep, rather than block the airwaves for the rest of us,” Raghda Azad, a policy adviser, told Arab News.

“Not that LBC is a model or anything, but all television outlets should stop unquestioning and uncritical reports of so-called leaders,” she added.

However, some doubt the move will not be followed by other stations.

“I think it would be great if they all do. But I think because many people care what he says, stations feel like they should oblige,” Aya Chamseddine, a Beirut-based researcher, told Arab News.

“Generally, people tend to — even if they loathe him — root themselves in front of TVs to watch and listen. His speeches are theatrics above all,” she said. “His narrative will be predictable. He will say they know more than anyone what it means to lose people. He’ll be insulting.”

A Lebanese media expert, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, disagrees with the move.

“CNN, even when it hates (US President) Trump, carries his speeches. Nasrallah is the biggest political player in the region; when he speaks people would want to listen because of his effect on politics and our daily lives,” he said.

“The issue is analyzing what he says later, and tearing it apart when it is false or stupid, like CNN does after every Trump speech or statement.”

The boycott comes three days after Beirut was rocked by two blasts when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate confiscated six years ago and left in a port storage hangar exploded.

The massive explosions left at least 140 people dead, over 5,000 injured and more than 300,000 homeless. Many say that government corruption and negligence are behind the explosion.