£165k libel payout over TV terror claim

The leader of Tunisia’s principal opposition party has won £165,000 in libel damages after satellite TV channel falsely linked him to al Qaeda.

Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, who heads the An Nahda party, had sued in the High Court in London over a broadcast on the Al Arabiya satellite television station.

He complained that it also wrongly alleged he was one of a number of extremist Islamic figures specifically targeted by British anti-terrorism measures in the wake of the July 2005 London bombings.

Assessing the award last week, Justice Eady said that “no attempt was made by (Al Arabiya) to show that there was a grain of truth in what was said about the claimant”.

Sheikh Ghannounchi’s lawyers, Carter-Ruck, said it was one of the largest libel payouts of the last decade.

Solicitor Cameron Doley said the size of the sum sounded a very clear warning to the media about the dangers of publishing untrue allegations concerning involvement in terrorism.

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