Mirror pays damages for Al Qaeda slur

A leading Malaysian politician has accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages from the Daily Mirror over his wrongful identification as the third in command of Al Qaeda.

Abdul Hadi Awang, who is currently the president of Malaysian opposition party PAS, was caused great embarrassment and distress by the incorrect use of his photo in the Daily Mirror in May as part of a series concerning a number of terror plots in the UK, his solicitor-advocate, Adam Tudor, told Mr Justice Eady at the High Court on Friday.

Solicitors Carter-Ruck said later that Hadi Awang’s complaint was one of a number it had brought over the past 12 months on behalf of Muslims falsely accused of involvement with terrorism. To date, these had led to the payment of more than £700,000 in damages plus legal costs.

The article stated that Mr Hadi Awang was third in command of Al Qaeda, and was being held in Guantanamo Bay following his capture, he said. Trinity Mirror plc, the newspaper’s publisher, acknowledged that Hadi Awang had no involvement whatsoever in Al Qaeda – on the contrary, he had always been vehemently opposed to its “barbarous acts”.

The newspaper had explained that the photograph, which was published in error, was intended to refer to the suspected Al Qaeda terrorist, Abdul Hadi Al Iraqi, with whom Hadi Awang had no connection. It had published an apology and had agreed to pay Hadi Awang substantial damages and his legal costs.

Press Gazette, 22 October 2007