Ofcom delclares Gilligan’s Dispatches has “a case to answer”

Presenting a fabricated claim to an elected councillor, then using his genuine alarm, to feed into the television documentary’s general narrative of a Muslim fundamentalist conspiracy in Tower Hamlets – it can’t happen in Britain, can it? Yet, this is exactly what Andrew Gilligan and the Dispatches programme did. Welcome to Britain – Islamophobia has become mainstream.

A disturbing aspect of that story was the programme producers  falsely claimed that  Cllr Peter Golds made the original allegation (pre-broadcast letter to IFE). Luckily we’re not, yet, in a tinpot dictatorship (read Middle East) and there are still checks on the powerful forces in society - including the media.

IFE’s complaint to Ofcom was centred around these two points:
a) The programme [01/03/2010] included a false claim that Mr [Lutfur] Ali, the apparently less qualified candidate for the post of assistant chief executive of the Council, had links to the IFE and was appointed as a result of those links.
b) Councillor Golds made his comment about Mr Ali’s alleged links with the IFE on the basis of misinformation given to him by the reporter.
In its response and decision, Ofcom found that the complaint is “of a potentially serious nature” and IFE’s “complaint is not frivolous.” Most damning of all was the declaration that “there appears to be a case to answer of unfair treatment in the programme as broadcast.”

In case Gilligan tries to brush it off, Ofcom helpfully defines frivolous: “Ofcom will normally consider a complaint to be frivolous if in its opinion the complaint is unsustainable. Normally this is because the complainant has not provided reasonable grounds on which to base a complaint of unjust or unfair treatment or unwarranted infringement of privacy and therefore, the complaint is on its face without substance and there is not a case for the relevant broadcaster to answer.”

IFE’s more recent statement on Gilligan’s false claim states that he has “a history of making false claims”. In case of any lingering doubt, here’s more evidence of false claims made by Gilligan personally: Whereas he only falsely claimed, in the Dispatches programme, that “several other people in IFE-linked organisations” were “co-directors” of the Centre for Muslim Affairs - he sexed up this false claim in his Telegraph blog by then falsely claiming that organisation was set up “with a number of IFE and IFE-linked figures” – ie that the other individuals themselves were IFE linked figures.

This is a blatant lie as the public records show, only one member was an IFE or IFE-linked figure (who only verbally accepted an invitation to become a member, didn’t attend a single members’/board meeting, and promptly resigned four months after the company was established)!

Let’s also look at his shoddy journalistic practices (or pseudo-journalism): Here I was, blaming the Dispatches producers for falsely claiming that Cllr Golds made the original accusation – however it seems Gilligan wants to take personal credit for that too. If he says, “I made the programme, and wrote The Sunday Telegraph report”, who am I to deny him this narcissistic indulgence? The real question remains, was it an honest journalistic practice? Furthermore, how is it “ever justifiable to publish claims, without verifying the facts first”, and not even offer the accused an opportunity to respond?

With regards the Dispatches accusation (Lutfur Ali), at least he offered IFE a chance to respond – even though the facts were misrepresented. However, in his more recent false claim (IFE booking a venue in TELCO’s name), he didn’t even bother to ask IFE for comment. Perhaps he considers himself above basic journalistic conventions? Gilligan’s own arrogance will be his undoing.

Gilligan is back to his usual rants on his blog again, you decide if he’s got an obsession with ‘Islamists’ and conspiracies.

3 comments to Ofcom delclares Gilligan’s Dispatches has “a case to answer”

  • Read the Report

    Taking into account the factors detailed above and in reliance on section 111(5) of the Act, Ofcom cannot entertain Mr Faradhi’s complaint on the grounds that it was not made within a reasonable time. “

    • Amin

      What that means is Ofcom cannot proceed to a full judgement – which usually could mean sanctions or fines, because the complaint was not made within 20 days!

      “Reasonable time: Section 111(5) of the Act provides that Ofcom shall refuse to entertain a complaint if it appears not to have been made within a reasonable time after the last occasion on which the programme was broadcast.”

      So, sadly, because the complaint was made late – Ofcom cannot do anything about the injustice.

  • I am not at all interested in Gilligan’s claims of infiltration etc and it looks like you have a case regarding some of the issues. What I haven’t seen cleared up is whether IFE follows the ideology of Maududi and Jamaat-e-Islami or not. It is clear that some of your teachings in the Dispatches documentary leaned towards Maududi’s ideology and indeed one of your teachers offered ‘Let Us Be Muslims’as essential reading.

    These are the points that I have not seen refuted by IFE:

    ANDREW GILLIGAN, piece to camera: The mosque calls the IFE a “social welfare organisation”. But this IFE leaflet says that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.”

    IFE TRAINING LECTURE (read by actor): Our goal is to create the True Believer, to then mobilize these believers into an organized force for change who will carry out da’wah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic Law] and jihad [struggle.] This will lead to social change and Iqamatud Deen.

    IFE TRAINING LECTURE: …protecting yourself from all types of haram [forbidden things]… music, .. TV …and freemixing with women in that which is not necessary

    IFE LEAFLET (read by actor): …strives for the establishment of a global society, the Khalifah…. comprised of individuals who live by the principles of… the Shari’ah

    FEMALE IFE TEACHER, recruit training session: This is one of the books we’re gonna be reading in our training. All of you have been asked to read that book

    This book, Let Us Be Muslims, by Syed Mawdudi, is one of the key texts on the IFE reading list

    LET US BE MUSLIMS (read by actor): Merely believing in God … is not enough

    LET US BE MUSLIMS: …wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize all powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God

    FEMALE IFE TEACHER, recruit training session: We can’t say that ok praying 5 times a day as a Muslim that’s enough. No. We have to accept every aspect of Islam. Political aspect, economical aspect, cos Islam provides all the solutions, yeah? Allah gives us everything, the sharia covers everything, every aspect of life

    IFE LEAFLET (read by actor): Enjoyment through music, dance, immodesty and free mixing of men and women is not the culture of Islam. This is a shameless western culture

    Why did IFE produce leaflets and recommend books that follow JI’s ideology? Is IFE a UK version of JI? What’s the score?



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