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Press regulator's ruling that the Times publish front-page apology welcomed by Muslim Council

A MUSLIM organisation has welcomed press regulator Ipso’s ruling that the Times must publish a front-page apology for a bogus story headed “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care.”

Muslim Council of Britain secretary-general Harun Khan said today that “it is about time” that the newspaper was made to apologise for its front-page story of August 28 last year. 

He pointed out that the head of the government inquiry into foster care provision, Sir Martin Narey, had called the reporting of the story “disgracefully dishonest.”

He added that he believes it is the first front-page apology for a Muslim-related story.

Mr Khan also called for apologies from Tory MPs Shailesh Vara, Andrew Bridgen and Philip Hollobone for having “jumped on the bandwagon” in making divisive comments on the same story, which was also reported in the Daily Mail and has yet to be retracted.

The Times ran at least three front-page stories last August after the girl was removed from her mother’s care by Tower Hamlets council in east London, which made the complaint to Ipso.

The paper claimed that foster carers had stopped her eating bacon, confused her by speaking Arabic and removed a crucifix.

The council said the headline “Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home” was misleading because it had sought to move the girl to live with her grandmother, herself of a Muslim background.

Miqdaad Versi, who leads the Muslim Council of Britain’s work on the media, said: “The note on the front page is welcome but cannot be considered even due prominence given this story was on four front pages. 

“The regulator was initially dismissive of legitimate complaints about the Times story, despite evidence available in the public domain. There needs to be a fundamental review to ensure this never happens again.”

Cllr Khan said: “I wanted to bring this complaint because this newspaper victimised people whose only crime was to offer love and shelter to children in the greatest need.

“I hope this can be a defining moment in the fight against prejudice in the media.”

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