By Paul Goodman
The legal action between Policy Exchange and the North London Mosque has ended. The mosque sued the think-tank in relation to its report, "The Hijacking of British Islam" – published in 2007 – and it's worth reading the statement which it issued earlier this afternoon.
"Policy Exchange is pleased to report that the libel action brought by the North London Central Mosque (NLCM) against it over its report The Hijacking of British Islam has now ended, following the dismissal of NLCM’s appeal against the order of Mr Justice Eady.
NLCM has paid a substantial contribution towards Policy Exchange’s costs.
A statement agreed between the parties appears on our website here. Policy Exchange has not apologised to NLCM for the publication of its report.
In September 2008, the North London Central Mosque sought to sue Policy Exchange for libel over claims made in its report The Hijacking of British Islam. Policy Exchange denied that the claims were libellous.
On 26 November 2009, Mr Justice Eady struck out NLCM’s claim on the grounds that the NLCM lacked the capacity to sue in respect of the report.
NLCM sought the Court’s permission to appeal. This was twice refused. It was granted by Lord Justice Sedley on 21 April 2010 on the third time of asking. Lord Justice Sedley nevertheless emphasised that he did not believe there was a realistic prospect of NLCM overturning Mr Justice Eady’s ruling.
In the meantime, in February 2010 the trustees of the mosque abandoned their individual claims in libel against Policy Exchange in respect of the same report and paid a substantial contribution to Policy Exchange’s legal costs.
In October 2010 NLCM discontinued its appeal and paid a substantial contribution to Policy Exchange’s legal costs. Following that agreement the appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 5 October 2010. Policy Exchange agreed to publish the statement which appears here.
Policy Exchange has not apologised to either the mosque or the trustees for the publication of the report.
The case is now closed.
A spokesman for Policy Exchange said: ‘We are delighted that this case has now been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.’ "
In short, the think-tank has said that "it's happy to set the record straight" in relation to the mosque not knowing about extremist literature sold on its premises…but has also made clear that it never sought to suggest anything else. The mosque gets no apology. And it has to make a substantial contribution towards Policy Exchange's legal costs.
Any reasonable person will see that the settlement is a clear win for the think-tank. Harry's Place has a good summary both of the "lawfare" currently waged by Islamist activists, the Hamas background of a senior NLM trustee, and its other current difficulties.
For what it's worth, the best Policy Exchange report on these matters, in my view, was Munira Mirza's "Living Apart Together", closely followed by Martin Bright's "When Progressives treat with Reactionaries". I hope that more's heard from it soon.