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Imams Jekyll and Hyde

Oh happy days! I am elated.

A libel claim brought against the BBC by Chief Imam, Shakeel Begg, has been dismissed today.

Mr Begg, the Chief Imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre, sought damages against the BBC for libel in respect of a broadcast of Sunday Politics presented by Andrew Neil on BBC One, 3 November 2013. He denied being an extremist speaker who had recently promoted and encouraged religious violence by telling Muslims that it would constitute a man’s greatest deeds.

Today in a written judgment The Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave dismissed the claim stating that Shakeel Begg was “something of a Jekyll and Hyde character” whose “speeches and postings, represent an overwhelming case of justification for the BBC“, and that he “clearly promotes and encourages violence in support of Islam and espouses a series of extremist Islamic positions”.

A BBC Spokesperson said: “We were right to stand by the journalism of Sunday Politics. The judge has concluded, based on the evidence, that Imam Begg has preached religious violence and an extremist worldview in his remarks.”

You can read the full judgment here.

Mr Begg and the Lewisham Islamic Centre have featured here for some time now. This post sums him up and presents some of the evidence that ultimately helped the BBC to win.

Telling these stories can be perilous. Lawfare is a very ugly business. Islamists have used it time and time again to muzzle the media.

This time, though, the good side refused to be silenced. It stood up and in the end it won. Huzzah!