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June 14, 2023updated 19 Jun 2023 11:58am

TalkTV pays damages to migrants charity over ‘human traffickers’ claim

Migrants Organise expressed concern that "it was suggested that they were ‘funded to help illegal migration’".

By Bron Maher

TalkTV has issued an apology and paid “substantial damages” to a migrants’ rights charity over defamatory claims made on Mike Graham’s show that the organisation were “human traffickers”.

The offending remarks were broadcast on 10 and 13 June 2022 during a discussion about Migrants Organise on daytime programme The Independent Republic of Mike Graham.

According to the channel’s apology, Migrants Organise expressed concern that “it was suggested that they were ‘funded to help illegal migration’, were ‘human traffickers’, and that they facilitated fraud and terrorism by advising asylum seekers to falsify information to bolster their asylum claims”.

Migrants Organise’s chief executive, Zrinka Bralo, said that following the broadcast and its distribution on Twitter “we were exposed to hate and threats of violence as a result of the mischaracterisation of our work and the dehumanisation of people in need, and we had to take a stand.

“This victory is for the people behind these headlines, people who have no voice or representation, people who are scapegoated, demonised and dehumanised. Their resilience is the source of hope for all of us.”

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Migrants Organise says on its website that it campaigns for “an inclusive and welcoming society with a fair immigration system” and provides advocacy and casework support to people who arrive in the UK. The charity receives funding from organisations including the Joseph Rowntree Trust and the Greater London Authority.

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TalkTV said: “We are happy to clarify that it was not our or Mike’s intention to make those allegations and we accept there wasn’t a factual basis for doing so.

“There were criticisms of Migrants Organise in the show and we should have offered the charity the opportunity to come on and respond. We apologise for not doing that and have agreed to pay them damages and legal costs.”

Migrants Organise said the damages received will be used “to further support our vital work in supporting migrants and refugees to rebuild their lives”.

This is the second apology TalkTV has had to make over claims made by Graham about Migrants Organise. In July last year Graham apologised to mental health charity Mind after he questioned why it had provided funding to Migrants Organise, suggesting the money had gone to paying migrants’ legal fees. Mind called the allegation “plain wrong” and said the donations were for “specific work to support mental health”.

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