Mail on Sunday apologises to UK-based Palestinian centre over antisemitic slur
The publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline has published a full apology and paid substantial libel damages to the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) and its chairman over comments that appeared in a book suggesting the UK-based organisation blamed the Jewish people for the Holocaust.
The claim arose from an article written by Tom Bower on 16 February 2019, as part of the Mail’s serialisation of Bower’s critical biography of Jeremy Corbyn.
The article, along with the book, contained the allegation that the PRC and, it was implied, its chairman Majed Al-Zeer, was a group “known to blame the Jews for the Holocaust”.
Both the Mail on Sunday and Tom Bower have now acknowledged that there was no truth to the allegation, which arose from the misreporting of comments made by an individual speaking at an event hosted by the PRC at the House of Lords in 2016.
As previously reported by Middle East Eye, during that event an audience member - affiliated neither with Corbyn or the PRC - stood up and asserted that a particular rabbi had antagonised Hitler and therefore precipitated the Holocaust.
The PRC said that the person was not speaking on its behalf and that his comments were not endorsed by the PRC members present, as some newspapers had suggested.
An inquiry, led by the Commissioner of Standards, later found that PRC's event had neither promoted antisemitism nor been taken over by antisemitic speakers.
As well as publishing full apologies in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline website, Associated Newspapers, the media outlets' publisher, have paid substantial damages, as well as paying the PRC's costs.
Allegation to be removed
In January, HarperCollins, the publisher of Bower's book, said that they and the author expressed regret over the comments and acknowledged that the allegation should never have been made.
Bower's biography of Corbyn, which soared to number two on The Sunday Times bestseller list after being published in February last year, has repeatedly been criticised for omitting relevant facts in order to portray Corbyn as a ruthless Marxist and antisemite.
"As a biography, it tells us nothing we don't already know and gets things wrong," Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman, wrote in a scathing book review.
A similarly withering appraisal in VICE said Bower's "hatchet job" was "full of errors", and pointed to the author's long history of factually unsound reporting.
The PRC describes itself as a not-for-profit, independent organisation committed to advocating for Palestinian refugees.
The organisation has said it regarded the Holocaust as "one of the greatest crimes in human history".
The false allegation against the PRC will be removed from all future editions and the paperback version of the book.