Right wing columnist suffers double blow as two articles are taken down for defamation and discrimination
THE SUN and Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins has issued an apology and being ordered to pay costs to the family of Mohammed Tariq Mahmood after she wrote an article suggesting that the family had links to Al-Qaeda.
“We are happy to make clear that there is no suggestion that either Hamza nor Taeeba or Hafsa Mahmood (Hamza's mother and sister) have any links to extremism.” Daily Mail
Mohammed Tariq Mahmood and his brother, Mohammed Zahid Mahmood along with family members attempted to board a flight heading to the US to visit their family and Disneyland. They were prevented by US Homeland security
The joint apology issued by Katie Hopkins and the Daily Mail said: “ We and Katie Hopkins apologise to the Mahmood family for the distress and embarrassment caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and their legal costs.
“In addition, a further article in Katie's column on 29 December suggested that Hamza Mahmood (Mohammed Tariq Mahmood's son) was responsible for a Facebook page which allegedly contained extremist material. Our article included a photo of the family home. Hamza Mahmood has pointed out that he is not responsible for the Facebook page, which was linked to him as a result of an error involving his email address. We are happy to make clear that there is no suggestion that either Hamza nor Taeeba or Hafsa Mahmood (Hamza's mother and sister) have any links to extremism.”
The news follows the repeated deletion of a controversial article, in the Sun, where Hopkins likened migrants and refugees to cockroaches.
“It was taken down before and put back up by mistake.” Dylan Sharpe
Speaking to CommonSpace, Richard Wilson, spokesperson for the campaign group Stop Funding Hate (SFH) a group set up to dissuade businesses from advertising with papers such as the Daily Mail and the Sun, said: “We have not called for any article to be deleted. Nonetheless, these two dispiriting examples highlight the brand risks that companies face when they advertise in the Sun and the Daily Mail.
“Since we launched the Stop Funding Hate campaign, we've heard from many people who have felt personally targeted by the hostile coverage directed towards Muslims, refugees and other minority groups.”
Although officially taken down in August of this year, SFH witnessed the same article up on the Sun website in the past few months running up to December. Last week it was taken down again with the campaign group being the first to make the removal public knowledge.
When contacted by CommonSpace Dylan Sharpe, head of public relations for the Sun, said: “Well it had been taken down before for editorial reasons. We don’t wish to comment further on that.
“It was taken down before and put back up by mistake. When the website was being rebooted, someone put the tab up, activated the article. But I can confirm it is down now.”
“We've heard from many people who have felt personally targeted by the hostile coverage directed towards Muslims, refugees and other minority groups.” Richard Wilson
Hopkins’ article in Sun, first published in April, likened migrants to “cockroaches” and demanded the UK use gunboats to stop desperate refugees crossing the Mediterranean. As a result, the United Nations (UN) put out its own statement condemning “decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion” in the UK press.
Hopkins who dropped out of the TV gameshow ‘The Apprentice’ in 2007 has been criticised for writing articles which her critics say dehumanise marginalised minority groups. Her writing has been widely condemned by political figures, campaigners and human rights organisations who have long waited for any consequence to the content and style of her writing and commentary. Opponents were in outcry stating that her words were inflammatory and dangerous to vulnerable groups in society.
In April of this year, a petition was launched, open to the public, to force the Sun to remove her as one of its columnists.
Wilson added: “The Sun and the Daily Mail are free to print what they like within the law. But freedom of expression is not just for newspaper editors - and the right to free speech does not automatically entail a right to receive advertising revenue. Customers of John Lewis, M&S, and Aldi also have a right to speak out, and to seek to influence the advertising choices that these companies make.”
The Sun newspaper refused to comment on whether the campaign had contributed to the decision to delete the article for a second time.
Picture courtesy of YouTube
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