News agency’s ‘sorry’ over Finsbury Park Mosque ‘terrorism’ allegations
Mosque chairman: 'We have no connections to terrorism whatsoever and terrorism is something that we do not tolerate at all'
06 February, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque
AN INTERNATIONAL news agency has apologised and agreed to pay a five-figure sum in damages over “terrorism” allegations relating to the Finsbury Park Mosque.
On Wednesday, Thomson Reuters expressed its “regret” at the High Court over publishing the allegations about the mosque in its global online database World-Check, erroneously included on a global database linking it to terrorism activities.
World-Check is used by large banks to help them judge who to take on, or to retain, as clients. Following the subscription-only risk assessment, HSBC closed the mosque’s account, and other banks refused to take the mosque’s custom. It eventually managed to open another account with a Qatari bank.
Chairman of the mosque Mohammed Kozbar said it was unaware of the profile report until it was informed by former Highbury resident Peter Oborne, the journalist who investigated the closure of bank accounts of several prominent British Muslims for the BBC in 2015.
The mosque launched libel proceedings against Reuters in March 2016.
The agency admitted the profile report “made the false allegation that there were grounds to suspect that the claimant had continued connections to terrorism”. It has removed the defamatory allegations and agreed to pay damages and the mosque company’s legal costs to settle the legal action.
Oliver Murphy, appearing for Reuters, said: “The defendant is here today through me to express its regret for publishing the allegations.”
Mr Kozbar added: “We are committed to serving our local community and benefiting as many people as possible. We have no connections to terrorism whatsoever and terrorism is something that we do not tolerate at all.
“However, I think that this issue is far greater than us and
this one case. It is unacceptable that any organisation is able to designate people as terrorists on the basis of poor research and for those people to be labelled without any recourse to truth or justice.”