Katie Hopkins forced to apologise for wrongly linking mosque to attack on police

Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA</span>
Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

The controversial rightwing commentator Katie Hopkins has been forced to publicly apologise to Finsbury Park mosque in north London after inaccurately linking it to a violent incident in May.

The mosque had brought a legal action against Hopkins after she tweeted footage of five men attacking Met police officers, implying wrongly that the perpetrators were members of the mosque’s community.

Although she deleted the tweet, the mosque was told by Hopkins that she would be unable to pay damages if she lost in court, having already applied for insolvency in 2018 after losing a costly libel case to the food writer Jack Monroe.

The mosque then pressed for an apology. A period of negotiations resulted in Hopkins saying on Monday that she was “genuinely sorry for any hurt or offence felt by Finsbury Park mosque” for making “a clear factual error”.

Related: Katie Hopkins permanently removed from Twitter

The original and inaccurate tweet, which was widely shared, was dated 8 May. It said: “Finsbury Park mosque just after 8pm. Officers attacked. 5 representatives of the Religion of Peace arrested. Zero media coverage.”

But having been informed of the “factual inaccuracies of that tweet” Hopkins said she wanted to correct the record to say “the incident was not occurring outside Finsbury Park mosque but two streets away in Blackstock Road”.

“Furthermore, it could be inferred from my tweet that the aggressors in the altercation with the Metropolitan police were members of the Finsbury Park mosque. I offer my sincere apologies to the Mosque for this incorrect inference and the offence or hurt caused by it,” Hopkins added.

The commentator was forced to publish her apology on Instagram and Parler, networks where she retains an active presence, because her once well-followed Twitter account was permanently removed from that network in June. At the time Twitter said she had breached the service’s “hateful conduct” policy.

Finsbury Park mosque was associated with the extremist cleric Abu Hamza until 2005, but has long since been reorganised and prides itself on its community relations.

But that has not stopped it from coming under attack: one person was killed and 12 were injured after a far-right terror attack in 2017, when a man drove a rented van into a crowd of worshippers.

The mosque said it accepted Hopkins apology, and that it had been stunned to find itself linked to the incident and the culprits.

“At a time of deep division within our society and the prominence of hate, suspicion and fear due to an array of reasons, Finsbury Park Mosque wishes to remind everyone of our personal and collective responsibility to not only speaking truth, but doing all we can to bridge those divides and bring our communities closer,” the mosque added.