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Pro-Palestine group wins legal battle against MailOnline over false anti-Semitism claim

June 18, 2020 at 11:01 am

Majed Al-Zeer, the chairman of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC)

Key figures at the centre of the anti-Semitism row which rocked the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn have suffered an embarrassing legal defeat. Two British right-wing newspapers, the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, have been ordered to pay full damages and issue a written apology for publishing “grotesque” allegations about the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in their serialisation of Tom Bower’s biography of Corbyn, Dangerous Mind.

In the unauthorised biography of the former Labour leader, Bower, an investigative journalist, alleged that the PRC, an advocacy group for Palestinian refugees with links to Corbyn, was an anti-Semitic group. The 73-year-old alleged that the PRC is “known to blame the Jews for the Holocaust,” in his Mail on Sunday and MailOnline serialisation which tries to convince readers that the former Labour leader is unfit for office. The book was published it 2019 prior to the UK general election presumably to inflict the most damage on Corbyn.

“The article (along with Mr Bower’s book) contained the grotesque, but utterly false, allegation that the PRC (and, it was implied, its Chairman) is a group ‘known to blame the Jews for the Holocaust’,” said the PRC in a statement following their victory yesterday mentioning its chairman Majed Al-Zeer. Both papers have “acknowledged, there was no truth whatsoever in this allegation.”

Read: Labour’s anti-Semitism crises fuelled by right-wing faction to undermine Corbyn says new report

The fabricated comment attributed to the PRC, a UN accredited NGO, was made in the House of Lords by an individual from the audience speaking at an event hosted by the advocacy group in 2016.  Although the remarks were “strongly condemned by the PRC at the time”, Bower misused this false allegation to paint the PRC as an anti-Semitic group in what seems to be a desperate attempt to make Corbyn guilty by association. Though the former Labour leader was not a speaker at the event, he has spoken in several conferences and parliamentary meetings hosted by the PRC and made a trip to refugee camps in the Middle East during cross party parliamentary delegations organised by the centre.

As well as publishing full apologies in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline website, Associated Newspapers has been ordered to pay substantial damages and pay the Palestinian Return Centre’s legal costs.

PRC also confirmed that Harper Collins, the publisher of Corbyn’s biography, along with Bower will have to publish a full statement expressing their regret and confirming their unqualified withdrawal of the allegation while acknowledging that the PRC does not and never has blamed the Jews for the Holocaust. The false allegation will also be removed from all future editions and the paperback version of the book.

This is the second legal victory in under two years for the PRC. Last year its Chairman Majed Al-Zeer won a High Court battle in the UK after being falsely labelled a terrorist. The entire case centred on Israel’s designation of the PRC and its chairman as terrorists. World-Check, which supplies private information on potential clients for corporations, businesses and even governmental agencies, such as police and immigration, appears to have bypassed British authorities in its designation and used Israel’s false depiction of the PRC.

Anti-Semitism and Criticism of Israel - Cartoon [Cartoon Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Anti-Semitism and Criticism of Israel – Cartoon [Cartoon Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]