The solicitor advising the two brothers in the Forest Gate “terrorism” raid is considering legal action against certain newspapers, but has ruled out going to the Press Complaints Commission.
Following the raid at 4am on 2 June at the East London home of Abul Koyair and Mohammed Abdul Kahar, several national newspapers reported allegations that the brothers had previous convictions, had visited a terror suspect at Belmarsh prison, and claimed that Koyair was responsible for the shot fired by a police officer that injured his brother during the raid.
Razi Mireskandari of Simons, Muirhead and Burton, the solicitor advising the family on media matters, said that he had been asked by the family to look at newspaper reports published after the raid.
He told Press Gazette: “In my view, action could be taken, but I’m not going to identify individual newspapers.” Mireskandari said that he did not envisage going to the Press Complaints Commission, because he felt the PCC’s powers were limited and that legal remedies would be better.
Asked about the press coverage of the case, Mireskandari said: “Some of [the stories] have been good, but there are some stories that were not only bad but actionable. There have been certain articles that seem to be pretty accurate — that pretty accurately set out the position.” He added: “We’re being told that it [the raid] was a mistake. But then what’s worrying is that this stuff keeps appearing in the media that says ‘from reliable sources’, and this stuff about convictions, which is just galling.”
Mireskandari said that one of the two brothers had a conviction for an incident when he was 12. He said: “There’s a whole issue there as to whether that conviction should ever have been referred to, because it’s spent. In general, the law says that spent convictions should not be referred to unless there’s proven justification. I think you’ve got to ask yourself what possible relevance that conviction can have to an allegation of terrorism.
“The press reporting of it had stemmed from stories that seemed to more or less be saying ‘the police have a complete carte blanche in the present climate and I’m sorry he got shot but that’s life’.
“I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough, because the police have got to look into the background.” But Mireskandari added: “There’s other stories that say: ‘what’s happened frankly isn’t good enough at all’. As far as the family is concerned, this is their approach, and in so far as the press has reflected this approach, they think the reporting has been very good.”