Daily Mail apologises, pays damages to University of Westminster student

Farah Koutteineh

The Daily Mail has apologised and paid substantial damages to a university student who it falsely claimed was a cheerleader for terrorist groups. 

Rahman Lowe Solicitors successfully represented Farah Koutteineh in her defamation claim against the newspaper who apologised, printed a correction, paid Ms Koutteineh substantial damages and agreed to pay her legal costs.

The paper accepted in court that the allegations made against Ms Koutteineh were defamatory and entirely false.

The Daily Mail and the Mail Online published articles on 19 and 20 April 2018 which falsely claimed that Ms Koutteineh, a student at the University of Westminster, was a cheerleader for terrorist groups after she and fellow students participated in the National Union of Students’ “Students Not Suspects” campaign against the University’s implementation of the government’s Prevent policy.

The text about Ms Koutteineh alleged that she was a “middle class cheerleader for terrorist groups” and that as the President of Westminster Students for Palestine Society she had held events which celebrated a female terrorist hijacker and leader of a terrorist group called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Leila Khaled.

The article also portrayed the University of Westminster as having had a “dark side to its campus culture… where “The ideological climate feels conducive for radicalisation … a place where extremism can fester.”

The Daily Mail published the following retraction and apology online which can be read here, and on page 2 of the Daily Mail today which states:

“An article of 20 April 2018 about the University of Westminster students’ protest against the Government’s Prevent policy described student Farah Koutteineh as a ‘cheerleader for the terrorist groups’. We are happy to make clear that Farah Koutteineh does not in fact support any terrorist or terrorist group and apologise for any distress caused.”

Speaking at the High Court, a representative for the Daily Mail said: “[we] offer a sincere apology to Ms Koutteineh for the distress and embarrassment which the publication of the Article has caused her, and to correct the record”.

The full Statement in Open Court can be read here.

Following the hearing at the High Court, Ms Koutteineh said: “I am pleased that the Daily Mail and the Mail Online have acknowledged that they published an unfounded yet grave allegation against me and that they have now set the record straight by not only publishing an apology, but by also agreeing a Statement in Open Court. As leader of the University of Westminster Palestinian society, I was engaged in legitimate protest and not supporting terrorism or celebrating specific terrorists as had been alleged”.

Zillur Rahman of Rahman Lowe Solicitor who represented Ms Koutteineh said: “No student should have to go through the ordeal that Farah has had to for simply protesting against a toxic discriminatory policy. It’s shocking that the Daily Mail published an article making false claims which could have had a lifelong impact on Farah’s life and career. Thankfully, she has now been vindicated.”

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