Finsbury Park Mosque chairman on libel payout: ‘It’s unacceptable to have been labelled terrorists’

Finsbury Park Mosque chairman Mohammed Kozbar speaks at a central London press conference this after

Finsbury Park Mosque chairman Mohammed Kozbar speaks at a central London press conference this afternoon. Picture: James Morris - Credit: Archant

Finsbury Park Mosque was this afternoon “vindicated” after wrongly being labelled a terrorist organisation by a major online database.

Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: Ken Mears

Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

At the High Court today, Thomson Reuters, the owner of World-Check, was forced to pay damages of £10,000. Its incorrect categorisation of the St Thomas’s Road mosque forced the closure of its bank account in 2014.

Legal papers said that after being listed, the only bank which had been willing to offer the mosque an account was the Islamic Bank in Edgware Road. This offers no internet banking or debit services, causing “serious disruption”.

At a press conference in central London this afternoon, chairman Mohammed Kozbar said: “We are very relieved this has been concluded. We were completely baffled in 2014 when our bank account was closed without any reason given.

“No other high street bank would allow us to open another account. Jeremy Corbyn, our local MP, was incredibly supportive and came with us to meet those banks and try to find out what was going on. We thank him for that.

“Having found out about this World-Check listing in 2015, we were able to take legal action. But this issue is bigger than us. It’s unacceptable that any organisation can designate others as terrorists based on poor research.”

It is not known why World-Check, which provides due diligence services to banks and government agencies, categorised the mosque as a terrorist group. However, it had well-documented links to terrorist Abu Hamza until 2005.

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But this culture was stamped out when Mr Kozbar joined, and he added: “It has changed from hostile to cohesive atmosphere. It’s not just a mosque, but a community centre open to everybody. We are hosting a community open day on Sunday, for example.

“It’s not fair for us to be labelled a terrorist organisation, but because of what’s happened before [with Hamza], it means we are still subject to attacks.”

Dr Farooq Bajwa, the solicitor who led the claim against Reuters, said: “Finsbury Park Mosque has often been the subject of attacks and it’s very important to have been vindicated. The reasons for this terror listing are unknown to this day.”