The Islamic Forum of Europe, the extremist group which runs the East London Mosque and has been accused of taking over Tower Hamlets council, has lost yet another complaint – its third – against my coverage of its affairs.
As very attentive readers may remember, we reported last February how Lutfur Ali, a man with close links to the IFE, had been appointed assistant chief executive of Tower Hamlets despite being unqualified for the £125k job (the council’s professional recruitment consultants described him as “superficial,” “rather limited,” “one-dimensional” and a man who might “struggle with the intellectual challenges [of] a highly strategic role”.) On the panel which appointed him were the IFE-backed council leader, Lutfur Rahman, and another councillor, Abjol Miah, who is an IFE activist.
The IFE, bizarrely, waited more than a year before complaining to the Press Complaints Commission that it was wrong to describe Lutfur Ali as someone with close links to them. We pointed out, as patiently as we could manage, that Mr Ali had in fact set up a think-tank with a number of co-directors who were either senior officials of the IFE or closely linked to it. The PCC accepted this as evidence of a close link and ruled last week that “no inaccuracy could be established” in our pieces.
I still can’t quite understand why the IFE wanted to make an issue of this now – I can only speculate that their ally Lutfur Rahman, now the elected mayor, wanted to bring Mr Ali back to work at the council (he was forced to resign after our expose.)
Last year, the IFE also comprehensively lost an orchestrated campaign of complaints it waged against me at the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom. They later tried to take the Lutfur Ali point to Ofcom as well, but the complaint was rejected as out of time – not that stopped them claiming that Ofcom had found in their favour. Abjol Miah, too, made failed complaints to both Ofcom and the PCC. Not that stopped him lying about the outcome, either.
The reason this complaint took seven months to resolve is that the IFE simply would not take no for an answer, betting that we would get tired of responding to their endless new responses. Like the complaint itself, that was a bet they lost. Islamists use the tactics of serial pestering and legal threat (we’ve had one of those from the IFE, too) to escape media scrutiny, relying on the fact that most journalists do not have the time and energy to fend them off.
For the slower learners out there, I should state once again that we are the exception. We will always find the energy, and put in the time, to defend our journalism against the lies of proven liars.