Is there a working journalist with a more woeful record for getting it wrong and writing lies than Andrew Gilligan?
Today, the Sunday Telegraph accepted that Gilligan had written a defamatory story concerning the general secretary of the Finsbury Park mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, and had falsely portrayed him as being a supporter of Muslim extremism. The article, published in March 2016, was headlined “Corbyn and the mosque leader who blames the UK for Isil” so no prizes for guessing whose political career Gilligan was also hoping to trash at the same time. The Sunday Telegraph has removed the article from its website and been forced to pay substantial damages to Mr Kozbar while now admitting that “in fact, Mr Kozbar has never ‘blamed the UK for ISIL’”.
But, of course, this is not the first time that Gilligan has been caught out writing inflammatory rubbish. Just last August 2017, the Sunday Telegraph was again forced to apologise and pay damages after another Gilligan story fell apart after publication. This time it was forced to pay £20,000 in damages and apologise to Haras Ahmed for falsely accusing him of being an “Islamist activist” who was allegedly seeking to undermine the government’s Prevent strategy – a strategy that has many critics within the UK Muslim communities. The paper accepted that “whilst he is critical of the Prevent strategy (elements of which he believes are highly discriminatory), he does not support Islamist extremists and is in no way himself an extremist.”
And the year before that, in 2016, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph apologised to Mujibul Islam, a businessman in Tower Hamlets, following a series of Gilligan articles about him which the Telegraph accepted “suggested that Mr Islam was a willing beneficiary of…corruption”. The Telegraph papers accepted that the allegations were “untrue” and once again had to pay damages.
Gilligan now works for the Sunday Times. Interestingly, in February 2017, Gilligan wrote a story for his latest employers about a new so-called “Trojan Horse” plot by Muslims, including Nasim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman, to takeover a state school in Oldham. The very next day the Daily Telegraph – Gilligan’s former employers – followed up on Gilligan’s exclusive story and wrote up a similar story. You can guess what happened…the Daily Telegraph was forced to accept that the allegations “were unfounded” and apologised and paid damages to the Muslims they had accused. You would have thought that the Telegraph papers would have learned to steer well clear of a Gilligan “story”.
And what happened to Gilligan’s original Sunday Times story? Well, if you click on this link it currently says “This article is the subject of a legal complaint from Mr Nasim Ashraf and Mrs Hafizan Zaman.” I don’t fancy the paper’s chances. Do you?
Could it be that the Sunday Times is now regretting employing the world’s worst journalist?
On the other hand, perhaps the Murdoch-owned paper believes that publishing inflammatory articles about Muslims is an essential part of its mission as a right-wing rabble-rousing newspaper.