The Times newspaper has agreed to pay £50,000 plus legal costs to a Muslim charity it falsely accused of colluding with people smugglers.
A High Court statement yesterday said The Times had agreed to make the payment to the humanitarian charity the Al-Khair Foundation after an article about Somali migrants trying to reach Europe was published in December in the newspaper and online.
The statement says the newspaper accepted the article, which appeared under the headline “Greece accuses charities of helping human traffickers to smuggle migrants”, would have been understood by readers to suggest that the charity had colluded with criminal human traffickers who were assisting Somali migrants trying to reach Europe from Turkey, thereby putting their lives at risk.
This included an incident which led to the deaths of a number of Somalis in the Mediterranean.
The statement says the newspaper has withdrawn the articles and accepted they were both defamatory and untrue.
It has also published an apology to the charity and its trustees and agreed to pay damages and legal costs to Al-Khair and Imam Qasim, its founding trustee.
The agreed statement says “neither Al-Khair nor Imam Qasim have ever been involved in, or provided any support for, the reprehensible and criminal activities which were the subject of the articles, and there is no basis whatsoever for suspecting them of having done so”.
A spokesperson for the charity was unable to confirm how much the charity’s legal costs had amounted to in the case.
The charity, which was founded by Qasim in 2003, has distributed almost £200m in aid across the world over the past 10 years.
Nobody from The Times responded to a request for comment.