Newspapers pay out to estate agent over liquid bomb claim

An estate agent today accepted substantial libel damages over newspaper articles that suggested he had been arrested in connection with an alleged terrorist plot to blow up passenger aircraft using “liquid bombs”.

A judge in the High Court in London heard that Samih Ahmed, who lives with his wife in Walthamstow, east London, had been caused “great distress and embarrassment” by articles published last August in the Sunday Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday, the Guardian and the Daily Mail.

His solicitor-advocate, Adam Tudor, told Mr Justice Eady that the articles “suggested that Mr Ahmed had been arrested in connection with, and was in consequence to be suspected of involvement in, an alleged terrorist plot to blow up a number of large transatlantic passenger aircraft using ‘liquid bombs’.

“A number of the defendant newspapers also repeated these allegations on their websites.”

Mr Tudor said: “These allegations were untrue. As the defendant newspapers all now acknowledge, Mr Ahmed has never been arrested, nor questioned, nor detained by the police on suspicion of involvement in the ‘liquid bombs’ plot, or for that matter any other alleged terrorist plots or activities, and there are no grounds for suspecting any such involvement.”

He told the judge: “These articles caused Mr Ahmed great distress and embarrassment, both personally and professionally, at a time of particularly heightened sensitivity in relations with the Muslim community.”

In recognition of the “falsity of the allegations made against Mr Ahmed” the newspapers had already published full and prominent apologies and “have agreed to pay Mr Ahmed substantial libel damages as well as his legal costs”.

Lorna Caddy, solicitor for publishers Telegraph Media Group Limited, Independent News and Media Limited, Guardian News and Media Limited and Associated Newspapers Limited (Daily Mail), told the judge: “The defendants apologise to Mr Ahmed for the distress and embarrassment he has suffered as a result of the publication of the false allegations contained in the articles complained of.”

The damages figure was not disclosed in court.

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