Daily Mail pays damages for Hopkins' articles claiming brothers prevented from travelling to US were extremists with al-Qaeda links
A British newspaper on Monday apologised and paid £150,000 in damages after columnist Katie Hopkins falsely suggested members of a British Muslim family prevented from flying to Disneyland were al-Qaeda-linked extremists who were lying about their intentions in the United States.
In an article published on the Daily Mail's website, MailOnline, in December 2015, Hopkins stated that the US was right to deny entry to brothers Mohammed Tariq Mahmood and Mohammed Zahid Mahmood, and nine other family members, as they set off on a holiday in Disneyland and California.
The group, from Walthamstow in north-east London, were prevented from boarding their flight from Gatwick airport on 15 December. Mohammad Tariq Mahmood said his family was given no reason why US officials had refused to allow them to board.
However, Hopkins' 23 December article, "Just because Britain’s border security is a Mickey Mouse operation you can’t blame America for not letting this lot travel to Disneyland – I wouldn’t either”, suggested that the brothers were linked to al-Qaeda and came from an area of London that was a "hotbed of extremism".
In a second Hopkins article, "A brave Muslim tried to warn us their week about the extremists taking over his community. What a tragedy it is that our PC politicians would rather not know", published on 29 December 2015, Hopkins falsely suggested Hamza Mahmood, Mohammed Tariq Mahmood's son, was responsible for a Facebook page which contained alleged extremist material.
In a correction today, the Mail said it was "happy to make clear that Tariq Mahmood and Zahid Mahmood are not extremists, nor do they have links to al-Qaeda.
"They were travelling to the USA with their families to see one of their brothers for a holiday in California and they had indeed planned to visit Disneyland as part of their trip."
"We are happy to make clear that there is no suggestion that either Hamza nor Taeeba or Hafsa Mahmood (Hamza's mother and sister) have any links to extremism.
"We and Katie Hopkins apologise to the Mahmood family for the distress and embarrassment caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and their legal costs.
Responding to the apology Carter-Ruck, the Mahmood family's law firm, said: "As the Mail and Ms Hopkins have now accepted, these allegations were utterly untrue.
"There was absolutely no basis for suggesting that any of the Mahmoods were or are extremist, and the family were simply going on holiday.
The statement said neither the Mail nor Hopkins "was able to put forward any defence or other justification for these appalling libels", adding that damages of £150,000 had been paid.
Speaking today on behalf of the family, Tariq and Zahid Mahmood said: “We are very pleased that, after a great deal of dragging of their heels, the Mail and Ms Hopkins have now accepted that what they published was completely false.
"Even to this day the US authorities have not explained the reason why we were not permitted to travel; we assume it was an error or even a case of mistaken identity.
"However, matters are not helped when such sensationalist and, frankly, Islamophobic articles such as this are published, and which caused us all a great deal of distress and anxiety. We are very pleased that the record has been set straight.”
The articles have been removed from the Mail's website, although they remain published elsewhere on the internet.