Reuters news agency has agreed to pay damages to Finsbury Park Mosque in London after it wrongly claimed it was linked to terrorism.
Reuters admitted publishing a profile based on outdated reports on its global database – which caused banks to refuse to accept the mosque as a customer.
Finsbury Park Mosque had its account with HSBC closed in June 2014 after the Reuters report was published. In a letter, HSBC said: “The provision of banking services… now falls outside of our risk appetite.”
Following the allegations made by Reuters, numerous other banks refused to accept the mosque as a customer.
The mosque’s management company was unaware of the profile report until it was drawn to its attention by the BBC a year after its bank account was closed on 20 June 2015.
Sara Monsoori, representing the company which now runs the mosque, said the mosque was the subject of profile reports which placed it in the “terrorism” category.
“This was wrong,” Ms Monsoori told deputy High Court judge Richard Parkes QC. “The profile referred to press reports and allegations from many years ago, long before the mosque was reorganised and the claimant company was established.”
Reuters admitted its report “made the false allegation that there were grounds to suspect that the claimant had continued connections to terrorism.” It said those allegations had now been withdrawn.
Finsbury Park Mosque said in a statement: “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.”