BBC libel payout over Children in Need terror story

A leading Muslim community worker accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages today over a claim in a BBC Newsnight report that Children in Need money was passed to the 7/7 bombers.

Hanif Malik, who has for many years been involved with the Leeds Initiative Board, Voluntary Action Leeds, the Leeds Initiative Regeneration Board, Leeds Voice and the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston, sued over a report which was broadcast in August last year.

His solicitor, Louis Charalambous, told Mr Justice Butterfield at the High Court that the programme alleged that funds from Children in Need, which had been paid to a charitable organisation called Leeds Community School, had been improperly diverted to a neighbouring bookshop to assist the production of radical Islamist propaganda and to give financial support to some of the men who were later responsible for the 2005 London bombings.

“Although the BBC did not identify Mr Malik by name in its report, he may have been identifiable to some viewers because of his close connections with Leeds Community School as the then chairman of trustees,” Charalambous told the judge.

He added that the BBC now fully accepted Malik’s assurance that no Children in Need money was passed to the bookshop or the bombers, and that none of the money was used to pay for any propaganda, and had agreed to pay him a substantial sum in compensation and his legal costs.

The BBC’s counsel, Kate Wilson, said it apologised for the broadcast of the allegation and the distress and embarrassment suffered.

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