‘The Claimant, Shakeel Begg, the Chief Imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre (“LIC”), claimed damages against the BBC for libel in respect of a broadcast of the “Sunday Politics” current affairs programme on 3rd November 2013 on BBC1. Mr Begg complained about words spoken by the presenter, Andrew Neil, including: “…The East London Mosque… it’s also the venue for a number of extremist speakers and speakers who espouse extremist positions. This year Shakeel Begg, he spoke there and hailed jihad as “the greatest of deeds”. …”.
The BBC’s defence to the libel action was one of justification: i.e. that the words complained of were substantially true . . .
the Court held that the BBC succeeded in its defence of justification and that the words complained of were substantially true . . .
The Court said that even if it had found the BBC’s plea of justification was not fully made out on the evidence (which it had been), it would nevertheless still have found that Mr Begg had been, at best, reckless and irresponsible in his use of language when speaking to predominantly Muslim audiences about the sensitive subject of jihad and, accordingly, any damages would, in any event, have been nil or nominal. The Court said it was all too easy for someone in Mr Begg’s position of power and influence as an Imam to plant the seed of Islamic extremism in a young mind, which is then liable to be propagated on the Internet. For the reasons given in the Judgment, the Court dismissed the Claimant’s claim.’ click here, 28 October 2016