Times pays damages to advocacy group falsely linked to Reading killer

Haroon Siddique
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The Times has apologised to the advocacy organisation Cage and agreed to pay it £30,000 in damages for suggesting it was supporting a man who stabbed three people to death in what police said was a terrorist rampage in a Reading park.

Khairi Saadallah, whose lawyers deny the attack was motivated by a jihadist ideology, is due to be sentenced this month after pleading guilty last month to three counts of murder.

On Friday, the Times published an apology to Cage and one of its directors for a story it ran on 25 June. It said: “We incorrectly suggested that the advocacy organisation Cage and its outreach director, Moazzam Begg, were supporting the individual suspected of the Reading knife attacks of June 20, 2020, and that they were excusing his actions by reference to failings by the police and others.

“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.”

Zillur Rahman, of Rahman Lowe Solicitors, who represented Cage and Begg, said the level of compensation demonstrated the gravity of the allegations, given that the article was online for less than 24 hours before being taken down.

Cage said it would use the damages “to expose state-sponsored Islamophobia and those complicit with it in the press”.

Begg said: “Over the years Muslims in Britain have become accustomed to reading sensationalist and defamatory headlines in popular newspapers. We can only hope that this settlement serves as a reminder to others that the truth is not negotiable.”

In July, the Times apologised and paid damages to a Muslim man, Sultan Choudhury, over an article that wrongly gave the impression he had extremist views on female genital mutilation.

In 2018, the Independent Press Standards Organisation upheld a complaint against the Times in relation to the third in a series of front pages about a “white Christian child” that the paper reported had been left distressed after being placed in foster care with two Muslim households in Tower Hamlets over a period of six months. It later emerged that the child’s grandmother also had a Muslim background.