Undercover Mosque Police complaint a “publicity stunt”

The current Private Eye looks into the West Midlands Police decision to complain to Ofcom about Channel 4′s Undercover Mosque (see below).

They make the somewhat devastating point that Ofcom’s rules state that “Fairness and Privacy” complaints can come only from “the person affected” or someone authorised to act for them. The WMP is neither, so the complaint will not even be considered. It was clearly a gesture aimed at the Muslim community by Anil Patani, assistant chief constable (security and cohesion).

Private Eye asked the WMP why they hadn’t read the rules before lodging the complaint. A spokesman claimed that they “liaised” with Ofcom beforehand – a claim which Ofcom denies completely. Apparently they saw the press release only 10 minutes before it was issued.

The Eye also asked the CPS to cite some examples of the “complete distortion” they had accused Channel 4 of perpetrating on the views of the speakers in the documentary. CPS replied:

No. We don’t go into that level of detail.

Or indeed, the Eye notes, any detail at all.

The report concludes with by noting that Channel 4 and the HardCash production company are still considering suing the police for defamation. Good luck to them.

Just as a reminder, here are the “decontextualised” words of Abu Usamah, one of Green Lane Mosque’s main English-language preachers. The clip appears to be spliced together from two speeches, but both parts are pretty damning:

Any exonerating contextualisation gratefully considered.

(Thanks to Bartholomew for the heads up)

UPDATE: (Aug 17) The Guardian reports that Kevin Sutcliffe has accused the BBC of lazy journalism. They reported the WMP complaint to Ofcom as just another “TV fakery” story, when it was no such thing:

Particularly BBC News 24 which really just ran it as a TV fakery story. They framed the debate early on and that was lazy.

Leading media barrister Joanne Cash also criticised the police, and repeated that Channel 4 had strong grounds for legal action:

What’s happened here is outrageous and I don’t say that lightly.

Kevin referred to himself as the ‘poster boy’ of TV fakery. I say to you Kevin, you have also been the subject of some highly defamatory allegations

UPDATE: Paul Goodman, the shadow community cohesion minister, has written to Jack Straw, expressing his concern:

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a politically motivated referral, driven by the mistaken belief that the best means of dealing with separatist extremists is to appease them.


2 Responses to “Undercover Mosque Police complaint a “publicity stunt””

  1. [...] Media Watch Watch points out that Ofcom’s rules state that “Fairness and Privacy” complaints can come only from “the person affected” or someone authorised to act for them. The West Midlands Police is neither, so the complaint will not even be considered. [...]

  2. [...] 4 documentary Undercover Mosque, and found that those allegations were groundless – something that informed commentators have long [...]