BBC ups payout to angry Muslim leader to £45,000

The BBC has offered a further £15,000 to the leader of a Muslim group after a guest on a politics show allegedly accused him of supporting attacks on British soldiers.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) had threatened legal action because of remarks made during an episode of Question Time in March.

The broadcaster had originally agreed to apologise for the remarks made by former editor of The Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore, and to pay Dr Bari £30,000 in damages.

The BBC now reports it has increased the amount to £45,000.

During the show in March Mr Moore had been asked about Muslims protesting in Luton against a parade of British troops returning from a tour of Iraq.

He responded: “I’ve gone to [the Muslim Council of Britain] many times, and said will you condemn the killing and kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they won’t.

“Because these wars are in Muslim countries, they will not do this. They do one thing that is perfectly understandable – they are opposed to the war. That is perfectly legitimate.

“But there is a bigger step that they take, they say it is actually a good thing, even an Islamic thing, to kill or kidnap British soldiers.”

The BBC commented at the time saying: “Question Time always has lively and wide-ranging debate. On occasion this results in unfairness to individuals who aren’t there to put their point of view and this is one of those occasions.”

Recently it was reported that the Government refused to apologise for similar remarks made by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears about the the MCB’s Deputy Secretary General, Dr Daud Abdullah.

Dr Abdullah started legal proceedings and demanded £75,000 in damages after he claimed Miss Blears had accused him of signing a document justifying attacks on the Royal Navy.

Miss Blears refused to pay and according to reports, no further action has been taken.

In May the BBC was criticised for appointing a Muslim, Aaqil Ahmed, as its head of religious broadcasting.

Mr Ahmed, formerly head of religious programming at Channel 4, has been accused of dumbing down religious TV programmes and displaying a pro-Islam bias.

Earlier this year a Danish cartoonist, responsible for one of the caricatures of Mohammed which sparked worldwide anger from Muslims in 2005, accused the BBC of appeasing radical Islam.

Kurt Westergaard said the BBC would not air an interview with him because it is terrified of upsetting extremist Muslims.

He said: “I am disappointed on behalf of the freedom of speech. Every time you are afraid I think you make a step backwards. That is depressing me.”

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