'Substantial' damages for family wrongly linked to terror plot

A family who were wrongly linked to a terrorist plot to kidnap and kill a member of the armed forces when broadcasters used old footage of their home in news bulletins accepted a formal apology and “substantial” damages at the High Court today.

The Rauf family, of St Margaret’s Road, Ward End, Birmingham, sued after their home was shown several times on Sky News and twice on Five News as a key part of a report that five men had been charged in connection with terrorism offences, and one had been charged with the kidnap plot.

The footage showed policemen wearing forensic overalls coming into and out of the house, along with a report that thousands of items had been seized in connection with the investigation.

But the film used was “old, wholly unrelated footage” of the house, solicitor-advocate Isabel Hudson, for Abdul and Salma Rauf and their children Samiya, 24, Asim, 21 and Hamza, 17, told Mr Justice Eady.

BSkyB Ltd and Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd had now apologised and agreed to pay the family compensation to be agreed or assessed later by the court, she told the judge.

“Taken in the context of the news item as a whole, the use of this footage would have led viewers acquainted with the claimants to conclude that they were to be suspected of involvement or complicity in what would have been an appalling act of terror,” Ms Hudson said.

“These allegations are entirely untrue. There is no question of any of the claimants being under suspicion of involvement in this alleged plot and no member of the Rauf family has been arrested, charged, detained by police or even questioned in connection with it.

“It is regrettable that old, wholly unrelated footage of the claimants’ home was used to illustrate this news item.”

The defendants had agreed to apologise for the “distress and embarrassment caused” and to pay “substantial damages for libel” which if not agreed between the parties would be assessed by a judge.

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