Associated Newspapers pay £120K damages to Interpal trustees over false article

Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail and MailOnline, has paid £120,000 in libel damages to the trustees of Interpal, a UK-based charity which provides relief and development aid to Palestinians in need.

Associated Newspapers will also be paying the trustees’ legal costs after it published articles on 2 and 15 August 2018, which falsely alleged that Interpal had supported a “hate festival” in Gaza in which children acted out the murder of Jewish people.

The newspaper and website have already published full apologies acknowledging that “while Interpal donated to the festival, it did not fund or support the play and the Trustees of Interpal unequivocally condemned the activities the play depicted.”

Interpal said the 15 August article referred to Interpal having been listed in the United States as a “specially designated global terrorist organisation”, thus leaving readers with the clear impression that Interpal is a terrorist organisation and that its trustees are thereby to be considered terrorists.

The charity added: “What the article completely failed to make clear, however – and as MailOnline has now acknowledged in its unreserved apology – is the fact that the US designation (which was made some sixteen years ago in 2003) has always been strongly contested by Interpal and the Trustees (who, along with the Charity Commission, have never been provided with any of the evidence purportedly relied on by the US authorities); that Interpal and its Trustees strongly reject any suggestion that they in any way support or are involved with terrorism; and that Interpal continues to operate entirely lawfully under the aegis and supervision of the Charity Commission.”

The Charity Commission has investigated Interpal on a number of occasions, including following the US designation, and found no reason to alter its charitable status.

Speaking after the resolution of the libel complaint, Ibrahim Hewitt, the Chairman of the Trustees, said: “Interpal and the Trustees welcome the decision taken by Associated Newspapers both to apologise formally and pay a suitable sum in damages, in recognition of the gravity of the falsehoods that were published. The timing and amount of the settlement are particularly noteworthy within the context of the ongoing wider agenda to politicise humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

“We hope that this significant success will encourage commentators and others to take seriously their responsibility for reporting unbiased, accurate information to the general public and service providers.”

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