There’s more tragic news today for Abjol Miah, the former Tower Hamlets councillor and senior Islamic Forum of Europe activist. Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, has today dismissed his complaint against me and Channel 4 for describing him as an activist in the IFE. It is Abjol’s second knockback from the forces of justice – his complaint to the Press Complaints Council over the same issue was also rejected.
As Ofcom put it (page 30 of this PDF): “Ofcom examined the steps the programme makers took in gathering evidence to corroborate the claim that Mr Miah was a member of the IFE. …Ofcom found that the programme had not presented, disregarded or omitted material facts in a way that was unfair to Mr Miah.”
Abjol, Respect’s leader on Tower Hamlets council, is no longer a councillor, and his party was all but wiped out, after we exposed him. We also played the viewers a secretly-recorded tape of his then party leader, George Galloway, saying that his election to Parliament in 2005 owed “more than I can say, more than it would be wise for me to say, to the IFE.”
We quoted Abjol (from undercover filming) as saying that “we’ve actually consolidated ourselves now. Weve got a lot of influence and power in the council. Councillors, politicians.”He insisted the “we” in this passage merely meant “Muslims” – something neither we nor Ofcom accept.
It was Abjol who organised the petition – graced by a large number of “invalid” signatures – which led to the establishment of a directly-elected mayor for Tower Hamlets, a post another IFE activist told our undercover reporter the organisation was planning to “get one of our people into.” And it is Abjol who has now taken a leading role in the current campaign being run by another IFE sympathiser, Lutfur Rahman, to win that same post.
We provided what the PCC called “a substantial amount of on-the-record corroborative evidence” to prove our claim about Abjol’s IFE activism, including
– the fact that he was one of only four main presenters on the IFE’s radio station;
– the fact he was described as a “member of the IFE” by John Rees, the former secretary-general of Respect;
– the fact he was a former office-holder or senior figure in three IFE-linked organisations, the Young Muslim Organisation (the IFE’s youth wing), Blyda, and Elite Youth.
The PCC ruled: “The Commission did not consider that the complainant [Abjol] had been able to establish that the article had been significantly misleading or inaccurate on this point such that it warranted correction or clarification under the Editors’ Code.”
Abjol’s response to this defeat was to issue a press statement claiming that we had been “slammed” by the PCC over our “slur” and to state that we “breached the PCC code on accuracy grounds” – a blatant lie (rather proving our point, incidentally, that part of the IFE’s main modus operandi is to be dishonest about its true beliefs.)
It’ll be interesting to see how he tries to spin this latest setback.