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May 24, 2007

BBC’s Panorama in libel payout to Islamic charity boss

By Press Gazette

The former general manager of Islamic Relief UK, Waseem Yaqub, today accepted undisclosed libel damages and a public apology from the BBC at London’s High Court over a Panorama programme called Faith, Hate and Charity.

Mr Justice David Eady was told that the programme was broadcast on BBC One and investigated the London-based charity Interpal which gives funds to charities on the West Bank to help needy Palestinians.

It was said to reveal that some of the charities were linked to Hamas and helped build support for the movement by spreading Islamist ideology.

Adam Spooner, counsel for Mr Yaqub told the judge that the programme had included a photograph showing Dr Essam Yusuf, vice chairman and managing trustee of Interpal, standing next to Mr Yaqub who was General Manager of Islamic Relief UK until November last year.

He said that use of the photograph conveyed the impression to viewers who knew Mr Yaqub that there were grounds to investigate whether he was a colleague or an associate of Dr Yusuf in relation to the funding and supporting of terrorist activity in breach of the Charity Commission rules.

Spooner said that as Mr Yaqub was not a subject of the programme it had caused him distress and embarrassment.

Kate Wilson, counsel for the BBC, told the court that they wished to make clear that the did not intend to include Mr Yaqub as a subject of the Panorama programme complained of, and had still less intended to defame him.

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She continued: ‘The BBC apologises for any distress caused to him as a result of including his image in the programme. It is happy to confirm that there are no grounds to investigate whether Mr Yacub was a colleague or an associate of Dr Yusuf in relation to the funding and supporting of terrorist activity in breach of the Charity Commission rules.”

She said the BBC had agreed to pay a sum to Yusuf by way of damages and in settlement of his legal costs.

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