Thursday, November 30, 2006

UK Papers Pay Dearly For Bogus Arrest Reports

Here's something you don't see every day:
A group of national newspapers have paid £170,000 to a man they falsely accused of involvement in the "liquid bomb" plot to blow up planes at Heathrow airport.

Lawyers for Carter Ruck, representing Amjad Sarwar, said he had been paid £170,000 by the publishers of the Guardian, the Observer, the News of the World, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the Times, the Daily Express and the Daily Star.

Each newspaper has already published a full apology to Mr Sarwar, who lives in High Wycombe, after falsely suggesting that he was suspected of being involved in the alleged plots to blow up a number of British aircraft using "liquid bombs" in August.
Apologies currently online include those from Guardian, the Observer, the Mirror, and the Independent.
"Mr Sarwar has never been arrested, nor questioned, nor detained by the police on suspicion of involvement in the 'liquid bombs' plot or for that matter any other alleged terrorist plots or activities, and there are no grounds for suspecting any such involvement," Mr Sarwar's solicitor, Adam Tudor, said in the high court today before Mr Justice Eady.

"The articles caused Mr Sarwar great distress and embarrassment at a time of particularly heightened sensitivity in relations with the Muslim community, and indeed led Mr Sarwar to fear for his own and his family's safety in light of possible reprisal attacks."

The newspapers apologised to Mr Sarwar and paid his legal costs.
Apart from the quoted report from the Guardian, news of this settlement can currently be found in the Times and some regional papers (here, here, and here).

But up to this point, the other named papers have been silent on the issue.

I'll have more about this later. But for now, I beg you to consider some of the questions raised by this small bit of news.

* How did all these newspapers happen to print the same false information concerning Amjad Sarwar?

* Did they get erroneous information from somebody?

* If so, who gave them erroneous information? And why?

* Or did they collude in the midst of a national crisis to frame an innocent man?

* And if so, why would they do that?

* And if not, what else could have happened?