The BBC reports:
West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service are to apologise for accusing the makers of a Channel 4 documentary of distortion. The broadcaster says the apology and the promise of £100,000 will be made at the High Court on Thursday.
It follows comments made about a Dispatches programme, Undercover Mosque, which tackled claims of Islamic extremism in the West Midlands. A police spokeswoman confirmed an apology would be read out in court.
A press release issued by the police and the CPS in August 2007 claimed the Dispatches programme, broadcast in January of that year, misrepresented the views of Muslim preachers and clerics with misleading editing. One preacher was shown saying a homosexual should be thrown off a mountain, another that women were born deficient. Police also reported Channel 4 to television watchdog Ofcom for "heavily editing" the words of Islamic imams.
But in November, Ofcom rejected the police and CPS claims, and Channel 4 said it was going to sue the CPS and police for libel. Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of current affairs at Channel 4, said the apology was a vindication of the programme team in exposing extreme views.
The intervention of the West Midlands Police and the CPS was, among other things, a gross intrusion into the liberty of the broadcasting media. Credit goes to the Liberal Democrat spokesman Don Foster for pointing out last November, succinctly and correctly: "Public figures should have thought twice before instantly damning Channel 4 for conducting what turns out to be a scrupulous piece of journalistic investigation into a matter of significant public interest."
Incidentally, among the public figures to have weighed in was Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, who wrote last August that the "CPS/police statement will, I think more justifiably, reinforce the distrust with which many Muslims regard sections of our media".
I assume without argument that Bunglawala will now wish to make clear that it was not Channel 4 who were at fault, and that no reliance whatever may be placed on the false and inflammatory CPS/police statement.