The Mail Online forked out £150,000 in libel damages after a column by Katie Hopkins wrongly claimed three of its members were Islamic extremists in two separate articles.
The Press Gazette reports that the two columns were published in December last year. Both suggested brothers Mohammed Tariq Mahmood Mohammed Zahid Mahmood had links to Al Qaeda. The article also featured an image of the Mahmood family home.
The apology by the Mail Online published today read:
“An article published in Katie Hopkins’ column on 23 December 2015 (‘Just because Britain’s border security is a Mickey Mouse operation you can’t blame America for not letting this lot travel to Disneyland – I wouldn’t either’) suggested that Mohammed Tariq Mahmood and his brother, Mohammed Zahid Mahmood, are extremists with links to Al Qaeda; that their purported reason for visiting the USA – namely to visit Disneyland – was a lie; and that US Homeland Security were right to prevent them from boarding their flight. We are happy to make clear that Tariq Mahmood and Zahid Mahmood are not extremists, nor do they have links to Al Qaeda. They were travelling to the USA with their families to see one of their brothers for a holiday in California and they had indeed planned to visit Disneyland as part of their trip.
In addition a further article in Katie’s column on 29 December (‘A brave Muslim tried to warn us their week about the extremists taking over his community. What a tragedy it is that our PC politicians would rather not know’) suggested that Hamza Mahmood (Mohammed Tariq Mahmood’s son) was responsible for a Facebook page which allegedly contained extremist material. Our article included a photo of the family home. Hamza Mahmood has pointed out that he is not responsible for the Facebook page, which was linked to him as a result of an error involving his email address. We are happy to make clear that there is no suggestion that either Hamza nor Taeeba or Hafsa Mahmood (Hamza’s mother and sister) have any links to extremism.
We and Katie Hopkins apologise to the Mahmood family for the distress and embarrassment caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and their legal costs.”
Hopkins, who is known to be outspoken for her views, took to Twitter to share the link of the apology.