BBC admits libel over Charles Moore Muslim comments

The leader of the Muslim Council of Britain has successfully claimed that the BBC libelled him by allowing a Question Time panelist to criticise the group’s stance on the killing of British soldiers.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari was not mentioned by name when former Telegraph editor Charles Moore made his contentious statement on the 12 March edition of the discussion programme .

But engaging solicitors Carter Ruck, he has successfully argued that when Moore talked about the MCB’s views on the killing and kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan he libelled him by implication.

Press Gazette understands that Abdul Bari has pointed out an interview which appeared in The Independent in October 2007.

In it he was asked: “Do you find the killing of British troops in Iraq unacceptable?” he said: “Our troops are doing an unenviable job. It is unacceptable and appalling to hear of them being attacked and I am very sorry for their families.

“We appear to have learnt very little from our history of interfering in other countries, and I believe, history in turn, will not look very kindly at our recent actions.”

Press Gazette understands that the BBC is dealing with the matter via the offer of amends procedure.

This defence is available if the libel was unintentional – and is sometimes used by newspapers with libels caused by mistakes such as wrongly captioning photographs.

It means the BBC has accepted liability. According to the Daily Mail it has offered to pay £30,000 in damages.

In a statement, the BBC said: “Question Time always has lively and wide-ranging debate.

“On occasion this results in unfairness to individuals who aren’t there to put their point of view and this was one of those occasions.”

The BBC and the Muslim Council of Britain both declined to comment about the matter today.

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