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Finsbury Park Mosque wins libel payout after being wrongly linked to terrorism in financial services database

PUBLISHED: 14:32 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 01 February 2017

Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: Ken Mears

Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: Ken Mears

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A news agency has agreed to pay Finsbury Park Mosque undisclosed damages after wrongly linking it to terrorism.

Mosque chairman Mohammed Kozbar. Picture: Finsbury Park Mosque Mosque chairman Mohammed Kozbar. Picture: Finsbury Park Mosque

Reuters expressed its “regret” at the High Court over publishing the allegations in its global online database World-Check.

Sara Monsoori, representing the firm that now runs the mosque in St Thomas’s Road, said in a statement in open court the database is used by banks, financial institutions and other organisations providing financial services.

The subscription-only service publishes profiles that go to subscribers including regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies.

Ms Monsoori said the mosque was the subject of profile reports that placed it in the “terrorism” category.

She told deputy High Court judge Richard Parkes QC: “This was wrong.

“The profile referred to press reports and allegations from many years ago, long before the mosque was reorganised and the claimant company was established.”

Following publication of the profile, the mosque’s bank “terminated its banking relationship and closed its account”.

Numerous other banks refused to accept the mosque, which played an important role in its local community, as a customer, said Ms Monsoori.

Its management company was unaware of the profile report until told about it by the BBC in June 2015.

Ms Monsoori said the company started proceedings for libel against Reuters Ltd in March 2016.

The agency had now admitted the profile report “made the false allegation that there were grounds to suspect that the claimant had continued connections to terrorism”.

The agency had stated it did not intend to suggest “that the claimant had any current or suspected connections to terrorism and any such suggestions have now been withdrawn by the defendant which has made clear its regret”.

Ms Monsoori said it had removed the defamatory allegations and agreed to pay damages and the mosque company’s legal costs to settle the legal action.

Oliver Murphy, appearing for Reuters, said he confirmed everything Ms Monsoori had said, adding: “The defendant is here today through me to express its regret for publishing the allegations.”

Finsbury Park Mosque said in a statement: “It is unacceptable that any organisation is able to designate people as terrorists on the basis of poor research and for those people to be labelled without any recourse to truth or justice.”

Court reporting by Press Association

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