DEFAMATION: Telegraph pays damages to former Guantanamo prisoner

The Daily Telegraph has apologised and paid damages to former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Deghayes to settle his claim over the allegation that he had encouraged his nephews to become radicalised.

Mr Deghayes was held in the American prison camp following his arrest in Pakistan in 2002, and was eventually released without charge and returned to Britain in 2007.

Agreements to pay compensation were reached in 2010 between lawyers acting for Deghayes and the British government for its alleged involvement in his rendition and unlawful imprisonment in Guantanamo.

Articles published in The Daily Telegraph on 28 July 2017 and 26 September 2017 alleged that Mr Deghayes had used some of this compensation from 2010 to pay his nephews to attend a gym, where they had then been radicalised. Two of Mr Deghayes’ nephews were later killed whilst fighting in Syria.

In an apology published as part of the settlement the Telegraph accepted that although some of the information it had published was drawn from a local authority Serious Case Review, Mr Deghayes had not paid or encouraged his nephews to attend the gym, nor was he responsible for his nephews travelling to Syria.

Along with the apology, the newspaper agreed to pay Mr Deghayes damages and his legal costs.

Commenting on the resolution of his claim against the Telegraph, Mr Deghayes said:

“I’m pleased that the Telegraph has acknowledged that they published a baseless and unfounded allegation and have set the record straight. It is regrettable that the writer and publisher did not attempt to verify the story they were publishing. The harm that has been inflicted can never truly be rectified.”

In the week following the settlement of the claim by Mr Deghayes, the Telegraph also agreed to pay damages to the chairman of Finsbury Park mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, to settle his claim over an article headlined ‘Corbyn and the mosque leader who blames the UK for Isil’.

There has been a decline in defamation cases fought to trial in recent years. but settlements such as these are a reminder that even claims which are resolved before trial can still result in the publisher facing significant costs for any legal fees and damages.