Police pay damages after anti-gay Muslims documentary row
Channel 4 and independent film maker Hard Cash accepted damages and an apology at the High Court following a row over a documentary broadcast last January exposing homophobic preaching in UK mosques.
The Dispatches programme portrayed a Birmingham mosque as a haven for extreme views.
Undercover Mosque showed preacher Abu Usamah at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham calling for gay people to be executed.
“If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?” he told followers.
A scene in the advertising for the documentary also showed a preacher calling for people to “take that homosexual and throw him off a mountain.”
Last August, West Midlands police referred Undercover Mosque to the media regulator Ofcom and together with the Crown Prosecution Service issued a press release in which they said the words of three preachers featueed within the programme had been “heavily edited” so their meaning was “completely distorted”.
Today, they made the following statement: “On 8 August 2007, we published a press release relating to the Channel Four Dispatches programme Undercover Mosque.
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“This press release alleged that footage of the speakers shown had been so ‘heavily edited’ and taken out of context that it had ‘completely distorted’ their meaning.
“Reference was made to the CPS having been asked to consider instituting proceedings against those involved in making the programme for inciting racial hatred.
“Following an independent investigation by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, we now accept that we were wrong to make these allegations.
“We accept, without reservation, the conclusions of Ofcom and apologise to the programme makers for the damage and distress caused by our original press release.”
Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of current affairs at Channel 4, said: “This is a total vindication of the programme team in exposing extreme views being preached in mainstream British mosques.”
Channel 4 were awarded £50,000 of damages and costs of £50,000. The broadcaster will donate its damages to the Rory Peck Trust, which supports injured journalists.