Finsbury Park Mosque wins libel payout from Reuters

Finsbury Park Mosque Image copyright Getty Images

An international news agency has agreed to pay damages to a mosque it wrongly claimed was linked to terrorism.

Thomson Reuters, which provides material to media, financial and other institutions, agreed to pay damages to Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.

It admitted publishing a profile based on outdated reports on its global database - which caused banks to refuse to accept the mosque as a customer.

The firm expressed its "regret" at the High Court earlier.

'Poor research'

Finsbury Park mosque was run by Abu Hamza, who was later convicted of terrorism offences in the United States, until 2005.

The company which took over had its account with HSBC closed in June 2014, after the Reuters report was published.

In a letter, HSBC said: "The provision of banking services… now falls outside of our risk appetite".

Following the allegations made by Thomson Reuters, numerous other banks refused to accept the mosque as a customer.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Abu Hamza was convicted of terrorism offences in the US in 2015

Sara Monsoori, representing the company which now runs the mosque, told the High Court the Thomson Reuters' subscription-only service publishes profiles which also go to subscribers including regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies.

The mosque's management company was unaware of the profile report until it was drawn to its attention by the BBC a year after its bank account was closed on 20 June 2015.

She said the mosque was the subject of profile reports which placed it in the "terrorism" category.

"This was wrong," Ms Monsoori told deputy High Court judge Richard Parkes QC.

"The profile referred to press reports and allegations from many years ago, long before the mosque was reorganised and the claimant company was established."

Thomson Reuters admitted its report "made the false allegation that there were grounds to suspect that the claimant had continued connections to terrorism".

It said those allegations had now been withdrawn.

Thomson Reuters agreed to pay damages and the mosque company's legal costs.

Finsbury Park Mosque said in a statement: "It is unacceptable that any organisation is able to designate people as terrorists on the basis of poor research and for those people to be labelled without any recourse to truth or justice."

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