The Daily Mirror has apologised to Mr Abdul Hadi Awang, a well-known Malaysian politician and an eminent Muslim scholar, over false allegations that he was, among other things, the Al Qaeda “number 3” and that he was being held in Guantanamo Bay. As well as apologising in full, the Mirror has paid Mr Hadi Awang substantial libel damages.
Leading Malaysian politician wins libel complaint against Daily Mirror over false terror allegations
19 October 2007
The Daily Mirror today apologised in the High Court to Mr Abdul Hadi Awang, a well-known Malaysian politician and an eminent Muslim scholar, over false allegations that he was, among other things, the Al Qaeda “number 3” and that he was being held in Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Hadi Awang’s solicitor, Adam Tudor of Carter-Ruck, told Mr Justice Eady that The Daily Mirror had acknowledged the falsity of these extremely serious allegations and that, as well as publishing a prominent apology in The Daily Mirror and on its website, the newspaper had also agreed to pay substantial damages together with Mr Hadi Awang’s legal costs.
The Mirror’s Counsel confirmed to the Court that the allegations were indeed entirely false and repeated the newspaper’s apology.
Mr Hadi Awang is currently the President of PAS, a leading (and wholly democratic) Malaysian opposition party, having previously served (among other roles) as a Member of, and Opposition Leader in, the Malaysian Parliament, as well as Chief Minister of the Malaysian State of Trengganu. Speaking after the hearing, Mr Hadi Awang said,
“I am delighted at the outcome of this complaint. It was deeply distressing and damaging to me to have been falsely linked to the barbarous and wholly inexcusable activities of Al Qaeda in this way”.
Note to editors:
Mr Hadi Awang’s victory is one of a number of such complaints brought by Carter-Ruck over the past twelve months on behalf of Muslims falsely accused of involvement with terrorism. To date, these complaints have led to the publication of numerous apologies both by newspapers and by television broadcasters, as well as to the payment of damages totalling in excess of £700,000 plus legal costs.
For further information, please contact Adam Tudor at Carter-Ruck on +44 20 7247 6232.
Statement in Open Court
Abdul Hadi Bin Haji Awang and Trinity Mirror PLC
19 October 2007
Solicitor-Advocate for the Claimant
My Lord, in this action I appear for the Claimant, Mr Abdul Hadi Awang. Mr Hadi Awang is a well-known political figure in Malaysia. He is currently the President of PAS, a leading Malaysian opposition party, having previously served (among other roles) as a Member of (and Opposition Leader in) the Malaysian Parliament, as well as Chief Minister of the Malaysian State of Trengganu. Mr Hadi Awang is also an eminent Muslim scholar. He is well known among Muslims all over the world including in the United Kingdom, particularly in the Malaysian and diplomatic communities.
My friend Mr Bunting appears for the Defendant in this matter, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, a newspaper with a very wide circulation in the jurisdiction.
On 1 May 2007 the Daily Mirror mistakenly published a photograph of Mr Hadi Awang, as part of a series of articles concerning a number of plots in the United Kingdom to carry out mass terror atrocities including a plot to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. The photograph of Mr Hadi Awang appeared in a box headed “AL-QAEDA – Abdul Hadi” and stated that he was third in command of Al-Qaeda, that he had now been captured and was being held in Guantanamo Bay.
As the Daily Mirror accepts, the photograph and the wording accompanying it would have been understood to allege that Mr Hadi Awang was third in command of Al-Qaeda and is being held in Guantanamo Bay, and also that he was likely to be behind a number of terrorist plots in the United Kingdom.
Insofar as they would have been understood to refer to Mr Hadi Awang, these allegations were untrue. As the Daily Mirror acknowledges, Mr Hadi Awang has no involvement whatsoever in Al-Qaeda; on the contrary, he is, and has always been, vehemently opposed to the barbarous acts undertaken by that organisation. Mr Hadi Awang has never been so much as questioned or arrested in connection with terrorism, let alone imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.
The Defendant has explained that the photograph was published in error by the newspaper, and that it was intended to refer to a completely different person, the suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist Mr Abdul Hadi Al Iraqi. Mr Hadi Awang has no connection whatsoever with that person.
The article has caused Mr Hadi Awang great embarrassment and distress.
In recognition of its mistake and the serious nature of the allegations made against Mr Hadi Awang, the Defendant has already published a full and prominent apology in the Daily Mirror and has agreed to join in the reading of this statement in open Court. Further, it has agreed to pay Mr Hadi Awang substantial libel damages, as well as his legal costs.
Counsel for the Defendant
My Lord, on behalf of the Defendant, I confirm all that my friend has said. The Defendant apologises to Mr Hadi Awang for the distress and embarrassment he has suffered as a result of the publication of the incorrect photograph, and thereby the false allegations contained in the article complained of.
Solicitor-Advocate for the Claimant
My Lord in all the circumstances, Mr Hadi Awang’s object in bringing these proceedings has been achieved.
on behalf of the Claimant
Mr Abdul Hadi Awang was represented by Adam Tudor