The High Court in London has today determined that an article published by the Mail Online concerning Lord Sheikh conveys to readers a highly defamatory meaning. The article, entitled “EXCLUSIVE: Top Tory peer’s appearance at Corbyn’s ‘hate conference’ in Tunisia comes after YEARS of rubbing shoulders with Islamists, hate preachers and Holocaust deniers” was published on 15 August 2018, and led to Lord Sheikh issuing claim for libel, resulting in today’s Judgment.
The Honourable Mr Justice Warby found that the article carries the following meaning: “The natural and ordinary meaning of the words and photographs complained of, in their context, is that the claimant has a long history of support for, or close association with, people and organisations that express or hold anti-Semitic and other extremist views and attitudes which, despite his attempts to explain it,
- provides strong grounds for suspecting that he is secretly an anti-Semite who approves of and sympathises with Holocaust denial, Islamist jihad and hate-preaching, which he is prepared knowingly and actively to support;
- is shocking and disturbing.”
The bulk of the meanings constitute statements of fact, rather than comment or opinion.
It was confirmed in open Court by Leading Counsel for the Claimant, that the formal complaint lodged with the Conservative Party against Lord Sheikh, relating to the same allegations, was considered and dismissed by the party’s Code of Conduct Panel in November 2018. It should also be noted that Lord Sheikh strongly denies that the attack upon his reputation is defensible.
Lord Sheikh was appointed a life peer in 2006. He is the Founder and former Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community.
See here for a more in-depth analysis of the case.