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London, United Kingdom – The Times has agreed to pay £30,000 ($40,000) in damages to CAGE for falsely suggesting the advocacy group supported a murder suspect.
On June 20, Khairi Saadallah killed two men in a stabbing attack in Reading, southeast England.
Five days later, The Times, a leading British newspaper, said CAGE and its outreach director Moazzam Begg were “excusing his actions by reference to failings by the police and others”.
CAGE campaigns against the injustices of the “war on terror” and calls for due process. Begg is a British citizen who was held in the US-run military prison Guantanamo Bay, without charge, for almost three years until he was released in 2005.
In its apology on Friday, The Times said: “[We] wrongly stated that they refused to comment on their involvement with the suspect. In fact, while they commented on police and media reaction to the attack, they had no involvement with the suspect.
“We apologise to CAGE and Mr Begg for these errors and for the distress caused, and we have agreed to pay them damages and legal costs.”
CAGE said it will use the damages paid to “expose state-sponsored Islamophobia and those complicit with it in the press”.
Begg said the story was an example of media coverage that aimed to “perpetuate a narrative that demonises Muslims who seek justice and accountability from the state” and “make huge profits”.
CAGE will be dedicating the damages paid to expose state sponsored Islamophobia and those complicit with it in the press.
We will continue to shine a light on war criminals and torture apologists and press barons who fan the flames of hate.
— CAGE (@UK_CAGE) December 4, 2020
Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the move, saying the paper had previously been forced to apologise and pay damages for other misleading articles about British Muslims.
The Times has – again – been found out lying & had to pay damages for lying about Muslims. You cannot trust the paper on *anything* related to Muslims.
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) December 4, 2020
Zillur Rahman, the solicitor who represented CAGE and Begg, said he was “delighted” with the outcome.
“£30,000 is a substantial sum of damages for an article that was online for less than 24 hours … It exemplifies the gravity of the allegations and provides the vindication to which CAGE and Mr Begg are entitled.
“It also demonstrates that the media cannot publish defamatory articles and assume that removing them from their websites and publishing inadequate corrections will permit them to avoid liability for these libels.”