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Mail pays out £150,000 to Muslim family

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Hopkins had falsely accused Mahmood family, who were stopped from visiting Disneyland by US authorities, of extremist links
Katie Hopkins

Mail Online has been forced to pay out £150,000 to a British Muslim family over a Katie Hopkins column which falsely accused them of extremism.

The column, published in December last year, said that US authorities were right to stop Mohammed Tariq Mahmood, his brother Mohammed Zahid Mahmood and nine children from travelling to Los Angeles for a trip to Disneyland last year. Hopkins also suggested that the two brothers were extremists with links to al-Qaida.

In a correction published at midnight on Sunday, Mail Online said: “We and Katie Hopkins apologise to the Mahmood family for the distress and embarrassment caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and their legal costs.”

Hopkins’ article suggested that the reason the family gave for visiting the US was a lie, and that she would have stopped them from boarding the flight from Gatwick. Her next column a week later also falsely suggested that Mohammed Tariq Mahmood’s son Hamza was responsible for a Facebook page that allegedly contained extremist material.

The brothers said they were pleased that after “a great deal of dragging of their heels” the Mail and Hopkins had accepted the allegations were false.

“Even to this day, the US authorities have not explained the reason why we were not permitted to travel; we assume it was an error or even a case of mistaken identity,” they said in a statement provided by their lawyers, Carter Ruck.

“However, matters are not helped when sensationalist and, frankly, Islamophobic articles such as this are published, and which caused us all a great deal of distress and anxiety. We are very pleased that the record has been set straight.”

Carter Ruck said that while most of the coverage of the Mahmood family’s ordeal had been fair and balanced, “there was absolutely no basis for suggesting that any of the Mahmoods were or are extremist, and the family were simply going on holiday”.

Hopkins tweeted the apology herself at around 2am. She was hired by the Mail in September 2015 from the Sun where she had regularly come under fire for offensive columns, including one where she likened asylum seekers to cockroaches. That article, which has since been removed from the Sun website, drew condemnation from the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein.

The Mail’s apology comes just days after it corrected an online article claiming that the NUS president, Malia Bouattia, had said young Muslims are travelling to join Isis in Syria due to cuts to education.

Mail Online did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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