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UK's Times newspaper pays £30,000 in damages to Cage over false story

Advocacy organisation also receives apology following publication of article that claimed it supported Reading knife attacks suspect
'This will not be the last time The Times uses its pages to generate more hostility towards Muslim activists,' said Begg (Screengrab)

The Times newspaper has agreed to unreservedly apologise and pay damages of £30,000, in addition to legal costs, to the human rights group Cage and its outreach director Moazzam Begg following an inaccurate story it published in the summer. 

On 25 June, the newspaper reported that Cage and Begg were supporting an individual suspected of knife attacks in Reading earlier that month, and that they were excusing his actions by reference to failings by the police and others. 

Three people died in the attack in the town's Forbury Gardens park.

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In its apology, the Times said: "We also wrongly stated that they refused to comment on their involvement with the suspect. 

"In fact, while they commented on police and media reaction to the attack, they had no involvement with the suspect. 

"We apologise to Cage and Mr Begg for these errors and for the distress caused, and we have agreed to pay them damages and legal costs."

In a statement, Cage said it would be using the damages paid "to expose state sponsored Islamophobia and those complicit with it in the press". 

"The Murdoch press empire has actively supported xenophobic elements, and undermined principles of open society and accountability," it said in a statement on Friday.

"We will continue to shine a light on war criminals and torture apologists and press barons who fan the flames of hate." 

'Sensationalist and defamatory headlines'

Begg said: “Over the years, Muslims in Britain have become accustomed to reading sensationalist and defamatory headlines in popular newspapers. 

"The aim of these stories appear to be two-fold. Firstly, to perpetuate a narrative that demonises Muslims who seek justice and accountability from the state and, secondly, to make huge profits in the process. 

"On this occasion, after being forced to recognise its unacceptable behaviour, The Times has apologised and offered compensation for the injury caused to us in the line of our work.”

Zillur Rahman, who represented Cage and Begg in the case, said: “We are delighted by this outcome for our clients. £30,000 is a substantial sum of damages for an article that was online for less than 24 hours. It exemplifies the gravity of the allegations and provides the vindication to which Cage and Mr Begg are entitled. 

"It also demonstrates that the media cannot publish defamatory articles and assume that removing them from their websites and publishing inadequate corrections will permit them to avoid liability for these libels.”

'Truth is not negotiable'

Cage describes itself as an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free of injustice and oppression.

The organisation says it works closely with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe, documenting their abuse and enabling them to take action and access due process.

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“This will not be the last time The Times uses its pages to generate more hostility towards Muslim activists," said Begg.

"We can only hope that this settlement serves as a reminder to others that the truth is not negotiable.

“In the meantime, this decision will assist Cage with its important work in exposing war criminals and torture apologists - alongside their facilitators within the media.”