Earlier this year, the Daily Mail unpublished an article citing fake leaked emails claiming that the U.S. was trying to set up Syrian leader Bashar Assad to take the fall for a chemical weapons attack.
The report, if true, would be extremely newsworthy given the current considerations of an attack on Syria in retaliation to allegations that Syria used sarin gas on its own people. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said recently that “samples…have now been tested” and show “signatures of sarin” gas being used Syria.
The original article was published January 29 and cited “leaked emails” between “two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence,” David Goulding and Philip Doughty. Britam Defence identifies itself as a “broad-ranging risk management and training consultancy” with “a background in UK Special Forces.”
The Daily Mail‘s article cited a Dec. 25 email between Britam Defence’s Goulding and Doughty published by Infowars.com, and noted that “Britam Defence had not yet returned a request for comment to MailOnline.”
The article, “US ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime,'” claimed:
“Leaked emails have allegedly proved that the White House gave the green light to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that could be blamed on Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country.”
But, the article was unpublished earlier this year and the Daily Mail was ordered to “pay substantial damages” after Britam Defence threatened legal action.
Martin Wood, a Group Legal Adviser for the Daily Mail‘s publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd., told iMediaEthics by email Sept. 2 that the article in question “resulted in a legal complaint.”
“The complaint was resolved on terms which included publication of the apology,” Wood added, pointing iMediaEthics to an April 18 story admitting that the email and, thus, story was phony. The apology statement reads:
“An article on 29 January reported allegations on the internet that the US Government had backed a plot to launch a chemicals weapons attack in Syria and blame it on the Assad regime.
“The reports made reference to an email said to have been from David Goulding, the Business Development Director of Britam Defence, to company founder, Philip Doughty.
“The email had been published on the internet after Britam’s computer system was illegally hacked in Singapore. It referred to a proposal that Britam would deliver chemical weapons to Syria for enormous financial reward and suggested that the directors were willing to consider the illegal proposal.
“We now accept that email was fabricated and acknowledge there is no truth in any suggestion that Britam or its directors were willing to consider taking part in such a plot, which may have led to an atrocity.
“We apologise to each of them and have agreed to pay substantial damages.”
Britam Defence told iMediaEthics by email that the “illegal hacking of our server and the production of the fake emails” is “subject to an ongoing criminal investigation by the British Police.”
Britam Defence also provided iMediaEthics with a press release from its law firm Carter-Ruck. The June 26 press release announced the terms of the settlement with the Mail: a £110,000 “libel damages” payment, “legal costs,” unpublishing the article and “apologising on its website and in court.”
Global Research republished a screenshot of the now-unpublished Daily Mail article.
Hat Tip: Global Research