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May 24, 2013updated 29 May 2013 2:23pm

Freelance journalist wins libel payout from Reluctant Fundamentalist actor Riz Ahmed over ‘bigot’ tweet

By Dominic Ponsford

Actor Riz Ahmed has apologised and paid damages to a freelance journalist he accused of being a “bigot” and falsely claimed had punched him.

The star of film The Reluctant Fundamentalist made the allegation on Twitter in June last year against freelance journalist Hardeep Singh. The tweet was in response to an article written by Singh for the Telegraph headlined: “It's time to stop using the word 'Asians’”.

The actor has now apologised and agreed to pay substantial damages, a proportion of which Singh is donating to the charity Help for Heroes.

Singh attracted considerable criticism for the piece in which he argued that it was offensive to other British Asians, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, for journalists refer to “Asian” sex grooming gangs.

Singh was represented in his libel action by Carter Ruck, which didn’t charge him for their services but will recover their fees from Ahmed.

Singh said: "It's an important reminder to us all, be careful what you tweet.

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"I'd like to thank both Carter-Ruck and Steel & Shamash solicitors".

In his apology Ahmed states: “As you know, on 9 June 2012 I posted a Tweet to my followers on Twitter in which I accused you of being a bigot following the article you wrote that was published in the Telegraph entitled: It's time to stop using the word 'Asians'.  I also alleged that you had tried to punch me at the Jazz Cafe.

“I wish to withdraw and apologise for both of my allegations and I recognise in particular that you were not in the vicinity of the Jazz Cafe nor have you ever tried to punch me.  It was simply a case of mistaken identity on my part.

“I confirm that in order to mark the sincerity of my apology I have agreed to pay you a sum by way of compensation together with your reasonable legal costs. I am glad that we have been able to resolve this matter.”

Singh was himself at the centre of a high profile libel dispute which was settled after four years in 2011.

He was sued by an Indian holy man over an article which appeared in the Sikh Times. The case was thrown out after His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj failed to pay in a sum of £250,00 as a security for costs in 2011.

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