Shahid Malik gives evidence in Dewsbury Press libel trial

Labour MP Shahid Malik, who is suing the Dewsbury Press for libel damages, has told the High Court that he had spoken out against Islamic extremism more than anyone else in the UK.

Malik, the first British-born Muslim MP, says the weekly Dewsbury Press published accusations from a Tory rival that he was an “extremist” running a “military campaign” in the May 2006 local elections to persuade Asian voters to support their “Muslim brothers”.

The claims centre on a letter sent to the paper by Tory candidate Jonathan Scott in the wake of the election, in which he lost his seat to Labour, and an interview with Scott a week later.

However, giving evidence today at London’s High Court, he told Mr Justice Eady and jury: ‘I think I have spoken out more on extremism, especially in Islam, than anybody else in this country.

‘Certainly, if you look at the media over the last two years, you will find I have been very outspoken.

‘I have fought for many years against extremism, both the BNP and in the Name of Islam, which I don’t accept.”

He said he was one of the first people to tell cleric Abu Hamza to leave the country if he did not like it here, and added that he had in the past said: “If you want sharia law, go to Saudi”.

Under cross-examination by the paper’s counsel Jonathan Crystal, Mr Malik said that the comments by the defeated Tory candidate were “the worst racial stereotypes” and demonstrated that Mr Scott saw the issues through a “racial prism”.

He added that it would be “outrageous, disgraceful and unacceptable” for Asian voters to be told to vote for their Muslim brothers.

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