Associated Newspapers pay substantial libel damages to Palestinian Return Centre

Majed al Zeer of the Palestinian Return Centre

The owners of the The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline have paid substantial libel damages, plus costs, to the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) and its Chairman Majed Al-Zeer after it falsely accused them of being “known to blame the Jews for the Holocaust.”

Action was taken against Associated Newspapers after their titles published an article written by Tom Bower, the political biographer, on February 16 2019 as part of the Mail’s serialisation of his critical biography of Jeremy Corbyn.

The article (along with Mr Bower’s book) contained the false allegation that the PRC, which advocates for Palestinian refugees, and, it was implied, its Chairman, were “known to blame the Jews for the Holocaust.”

But as both the Mail on Sunday and Mr Bower have now acknowledged, there was no truth whatsoever to this allegation which arose from misreporting of comments made by an individual who was not associated with the PRC. The individual spoke at an event hosted by the PRC at the House of Lords in 2016, but those comments were strongly condemned by the PRC at the time.

Neither Mr Bower, the Mail on Sunday nor Harper Collins (the publisher of the book) properly verified the information prior to publication.

Separately, Harper Collins, the publisher of the Corbyn biography, along with Mr Bower have also published a full statement expressing their regret and confirming their unqualified withdrawal of the allegation, acknowledging that the PRC does not and never has blamed the Jews for the Holocaust, which the PRC regards as one of the greatest crimes in human history.

The false allegation will also be removed from all future editions and the paperback version of the book.

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Last March the Mail titles published am apology saying that: “Our 17 February 2019 serialisation of Tom Bower’s biography of Jeremy Corbyn included an allegation that the Palestinian Return Centre blamed the Jews for the Holocaust. The PRC has pointed out, and we accept, that this allegation stems from misreporting of comments by an individual at a meeting it hosted in 2016.

“This person was not speaking on behalf of the PRC (or its head, Mr al-Zeer) who have strongly condemned his comments. Harper Collins and Mr Bower have therefore acknowledged the PRC and Mr al-Zeer’s justifiable complaint and withdrawn the allegation. We also withdraw the allegation and apologise.”

Mr Al-Zeer has decided to donate his damages to the PRC.

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