The BBC claimed Dr. Haitham al-Haddad, a Muslim jurist and judge for the Islamic Sharia Council, said that “Jews were descended from pigs.” The Islamic Sharia Council was “formed to solve the matrimonial problems of Muslims living in the United Kingdom in the light of Islamic family law,” according to its website.
But, al-Haddad did not say that; the BBC based its claim on an online post that misattributed the comments to him, according to a new BBC correction.
al-Haddad then complained to the BBC, and three years later, he got a correction from the broadcaster. A statement on the website for al-Haddad’s lawyers, Saracens Solicitors, explained that al-Haddad had been going through “long running litigation” against the BBC. Further, the legal statement said that the BBC never contacted al-Haddad to confirm the quote before its 2015 broadcast, and that the allegation was still published on its website until this month.
A BBC spokesperson told iMediaEthics, “We’re not commenting beyond what we have already said.” We’ve also written to al-Haddad’s lawyer for more information.
One of al-Haddad’s solicitors, Nishtar Saleem, said, in a lengthy quote in that press statement, that al-Haddad was “horrified” by the misquote and that the BBC did “nothing to verify this uncorroborated internet source before broadcasting.”
“Had it first done some elementary research, it would have seen, including from video online, that my client had confirmed that the report was indeed false and that he had never said such words,” Saleem continued. “The BBC also breached its own guidance and Ofcom fairness rules and failed to respect basic principles of fair and responsible journalism by broadcasting this allegation without first making any approach to my client for comment.”
The March 14 BBC correction:
“During an episode of This Week broadcast by the BBC on 5 March 2015, the BBC made a number of statements about Dr Haitham al-Haddad. One was that Dr al-Haddad believed that Jews were descended from pigs. Dr al-Haddad has made clear to the BBC that he has never stated that Jews were descended from pigs and that the BBC had referenced an incorrectly attributed sermon. The BBC accepts Dr al-Haddad’s assurance that he has not stated that ‘Jews are descended from pigs’. It has withdrawn this allegation and confirms that it will not repeat it.”