LONDON: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s first Muslim female cabinet minister and former Chair of the Conservative Party, has won libel damages and legal costs from the influential Jewish News over an article that wrongly suggested she had sought to excuse the actions of Daesh terrorists.
After Sayeeda Warsi took a legal action and sued the publication for defamation and libel, the Jewish News published a front-page apology and agreed to pay Warsi £20,000 in damages, which she said she is donating to a handful of charities, as well as her legal costs.
The defamatory article, which was also published on Jewish News Online, was written by former army officer Colonel Richard Kemp in which the author claimed that Warsi had objected to action being taken against British Muslims who murder and rape for the terror group. Warsi stated in her libel action that these claims were “untrue and offensive”.
Before the matter reached the London High Court, the Jewish News accepted the allegations were “wholly untrue and should never have been published”.
In a statement Carter-Ruck, the law firm that acted for Sayeeda Warsi, said: “As Jewish News has now accepted, these allegations were wholly untrue and should never have been published. Baroness Warsi is utterly appalled by the actions of Daesh and all terror groups (indeed, she is widely reported to be on an Daesh death list herself) and has never said anything to remotely suggest otherwise. She also believes that Daesh fighters returning to the UK should face the full force of British law.
“As well as publishing a front page apology, Jewish News has also agreed to pay Baroness Warsi £20,000 by way of damages (which she will be donating to The Savayra Foundation UK, a women’s empowerment charity, Nisa Nisham, a Jewish and Muslim Women’s network, Wakefield Hospice and others) as well as legal costs.”
The Savayra Foundation UK is Warsi’s charity set up to promote education and empowerment of women. It works with widows and orphans in Pakistani city of Gujjar Khan. Parts of the libel-win amount will go to this charity.
Commenting on the outcome, Baroness Warsi said: “The article was untrue and offensive. Predictably, it was widely shared online and on social media and caused a divisive debate, and as a consequence I was subjected to much abuse over a period of seven months.
I am a passionate supporter of interfaith relations, and unfounded allegations such as the ones published by Colonel Kemp and Jewish News serve only to reinforce and inflame the divisions between communities. I indicated at the outset that an early apology and retraction could have brought this matter to an end; however, the contempt with which Jewish News dealt with the matter for the first 6 months forced my hand. I am pleased that they have now apologised and accepted that Colonel’s Kemp’s article was utterly false and should never have been published.
By contrast, as perhaps befits an individual who appears to only publish inflammatory and offensive comments without a thought for the consequences (let alone the truth), Kemp himself has been too cowardly even to respond to my solicitors’ correspondence.
I’m delighted that the damages which Jewish News has agreed to pay will be put to such good causes, including for women in both the Muslim and Jewish communities, so something good can emerge from this sorry episode.”