Documentary makers to sue police and CPS

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THE PRODUCTION team behind the controversial Channel 4 documentary ‘Undercover Mosque’ have revealed they are to sue West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for libel.

The Dispatches programme ‘Undercover Mosque’, which was broadcast in January 2007, took 10 months to complete and focussed on two Mosques in Birmingham – the Green Lane Mosque in Small Heath and the Jamia Mosque in Sparkbrook.

Visiting American cleric Abu Usamah was shown telling worshippers at the Green Lane mosque Jews and Christians were “enemies” of Islam and praising Osama Bin Laden.

When West Midlands Police launched an investigation in the aftermath of the programme many had expected the preachers to come under fire.

Instead the police force accused the broadcaster of “splicing together of extracts from longer speeches” which “completely distorted” what the speakers were saying.

But documentary makers were cleared by media watchdog Ofcom last November of any wrongdoing.

Channel 4 announced Dispatches editor Kevin Sutcliffe, and production company Hardcash Productions have initiated libel proceedings.

“The statements made by both the West Midlands Police and the CPS were completely unfounded and seriously damaging to the reputation of the programme makers,” the broadcaster said.

“We fully support this libel action as we feel that it is the only way to vindicate their reputations and to prove this was a responsible piece of public interest journalism. These unfounded allegations brought into question Channel 4’s standards of investigative journalism and a vindication for the programme team will be a vindication for Dispatches.”

David Henshaw, executive producer of Hardcash Productions said: “They effectively accused us of fakery. It was the most damaging thing they could have done. We are seeking substantial damages which will be paid to charity.”

In a statement, West Midlands Police said they were “currently in discussions with programme makers”.

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