Agency pays damages to Yusuf Islam over sexism slur

Yusuf IslamFormer hit writer and chart topper Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, today accepted “substantial” but undisclosed libel damages and a public apology at London’s High Court over an entertainment news agency slur.

Adam Tudor, the singer’s solicitor told top libel judge, Mr Justice David Eady, the piece at the centre of the complaint was published by World Entertainment News Network’s and was later used on, a website published by Ltd which is said to have 2.2 million page views a month. Contactmusic also apologised today and will pay part of the damages.

Tudor said the item appeared on 26 March last year under the headline: “Yusuf Islam Ignors Bare-Headed Women” and was reproduced on a number of websites including that of Contactmusic.

“The article suggested that Mr Islam, who is a Muslim, was so sexist and bigoted that he refused at an awards ceremony to speak to or even acknowledge any women who were not wearing a veil,” said Tudor. “It went on to suggest that Mr Islam’s manager had stated ‘Mr Islam doesn’t speak with women except his wife. Least of all if they don’t wear a headscarf. Things like that only happen via an intermediary’.”

Tudor continued: “As the defendants now accept, these allegations were entirely false. Mr Islam has never had any difficulties working with women, whether for religious or any other reasons. In his normal life, women feature among some of the most influential people in Mr Islam’s team. Furthermore, the statement attributed in the article to Mr Islam’s manager was simply never made.”

He said that the article had caused the pop star considerable embarrassment and distress particularly given that it had the effect not only of creating an utterly false impression of his attitude to women, but because it also cast serious aspersions, quite wrongly, on his religious faith.

The compensation he is to be paid be donated to charity, Small Kindness. He is also to receive his legal costs. For World Entertainment News and Contactmusic solicitor Marvin Simons said they apologised for the distress and embarrassment that had been caused as a result of the “false allegations.”

Press Gazette, 18 July 2008