The BBC has offered £30,000 and an apology to the Muslim Council of Britain after airing accusations that it encouraged the killing of British troops.
The corporation offered the settlement after a Question Time
panellist accused the council of failing to condemn attacks on British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Moore, a former editor of The Daily Telegraph
, made the comments on the programme in March during a debate about Islamic protests at a soldiers’ homecoming parade in Luton. He claimed that the council thought it was a “good thing, even an Islamic thing” to kill troops.
The council, an umbrella organisation representing about 500 Islamic bodies in Britain, said that his claims were a “total lie” and threatened the BBC with legal action.
It pointed to a 2007 interview with its secretary-general, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, published in a national newspaper, in which he categorically condemned attacks on British soldiers.
Last night Dr Bari said: “These kinds of statements are very damaging, and we received many complaints from our Muslim supporters who said they were extremely offended by the comments.
“In fact when a British man called Ken Bigley was kidnapped in Iraq, we sent envoys there to plead for his release. This is accusing us of encouraging terrorism abroad.”
The council’s lawyers are now considering the BBC’s offer.
It is believed that Mr Moore was not consulted over the BBC’s decision to settle.
A BBC spokesman said: "Question Time
is a programme that includes input from a wide range of contributors. On occasion this means that those who are not present don’t get a chance to put their case. This was one of those occasions.”
is filmed one hour before it is broadcast for legal advisers to check its content. No concerns were expressed at the time over Mr Moore’s remarks, which were seen as provocative but not defamatory.