Channel 4 wins Undercover Mosque case

The Daily Mail is first with the excellent news that Channel 4 and Hardcash Productions have won their court case against the West Midlands Police and the CPS.

The documentary Undercover Mosque showed candid footage of extremist Muslim preachers in the West Midlands calling for homosexuals to be killed, preaching jihad, and spouting demented medieval bullshit. Such preaching is not a crime in itself, but the West Midlands Police decided, in a shameful display of gesture-policing, that reporting on it was – and accused the documentary makers of distortion, undermining “community cohesion” and “feelings of public reassurance”.

The baffled broadcasters were completely exonerated by Ofcom, but as the police left their initial press release up on their website, the producers felt they had no choice but to pursue damages.

They were awarded £100,000 – to be paid to The Rory Peck Trust – and an apology from the police and CPS.

Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of current affairs at C4, is pleased:

We are accused of faking by the police and the CPS, which carries an awful lot of weight.

We had to take this course of action to show it is not true. We were completely baffled. What were they trying to achieve?

Why did they go after the programme in such a way? It seems to us a large amount of public money and time spent trying to bring us down.

David Henshaw of Hardcash is similarly relieved:

This was a thorough and detailed one-hour documentary, made over nine months and at personal risk to the undercover reporter.

The abhorrent and extreme comments made by fundamentalist preachers in the film speak for themselves.

They later claimed they had been taken out of context – but no one has explained the correct context for arguing that women are ‘born deficient’, that homosexuals should be thrown off mountains and that ten-year-old girls should be hit if they refuse to wear the hijab.

Just as a reminder of the sort of talk that was going on at Birmingham’s Green Lane mosque, here’s a clip of the dribbling half-wit Abu Usamah in full flow, from the Dispatches in question:

UPDATE: The West Midlands Police apology is now online

On 8 August 2007 we published, jointly with the Crown Prosecution Service, a press release relating to the Channel Four Dispatches programme “Undercover Mosque”. This press release alleged that footage of the speakers shown had been so “heavily edited” and taken out of context that it had “completely distorted” their meaning. Reference was made to the CPS having been asked to consider (although against advice) instituting proceedings against those involved in making the programme for inciting racial hatred.

Following an independent investigation by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, we now accept that we were wrong to make these allegations. We now accept that there was no evidence that the broadcaster or programme makers had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity. A review of the evidence (including untransmitted footage and scripts) by Ofcom demonstrated that the programme had accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context.

We accept, without reservation, the conclusions of Ofcom and apologise to the programme makers for the damage and distress caused by our original press release.

Let us hope that their ill-advised foray into the world of TV criticism will not be repeated. Let us also hope that there will be a full independent inquiry into the affair.

One Response to “Channel 4 wins Undercover Mosque case”

  1. Jason Mead says:

    The claims by the CPS and the West Midlands police that the Channel 4 TV program, Undercover Mosque, was a “distortion” and “out-of-context” have been clearly shown as a blatant attempt at censorship in the name of “community cohension.” As succinctly pointed out by David Henshaw, the managing director of Hardcash Productions, what exactly “is the correct context for arguing that women are born deficient, homosexuals should be thrown off mountains and that 10-year-old girls should be hit if they refuse to wear the hijab?”

    Now that it has finally been established that the program was actually a true representation of ‘preachers’ inciting child abuse, sex descrimation and murder may I ask if there will now be any prosecutions of the “preachers” for inciting hatred against homosexuals? Shouldn’t the apology by the CPS and the police now mean that the decision-makers in those organisations be dismissed. Shouldn’t there also be a full, independent public enquiry into the abuse of a public office by the CPS and the police?

    If Mediawatchwatch will kindly put these questions to both organisations, MPs in Birmingham and the Home Office then I, for one, would be very grateful.