Martin Bright

The Importance of Being Libelled

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There has been an interesting repsonse to my last post about the libel laws. "Engage", an organisation ostensibly committed to "promoting greater media awareness, political participation and civic engagement among British Muslims" has embarked on the bizarre strategy of libelling me. The organisation behind the "Engage" website is somewhat opaque. But a list of apologies and press complaints commission judgements suggests that it is the branchild of Inayat Banglawala, the Muslim Council of Britain's longtime spokesman.

Under the disreputable headline "Veteran Islamophobe Martin Bright criticises MCB libel win" an anonymous writer makes a series of unsubstantiated claims. I have already taken legal advice about this, although I wouldn't have needed to do so to realise it is seriously defamatory. I object in the strongest terms to the way the insult  "Islamophobe" is thrown around so casually. It is essentially a charge of racism: the cheapest of shots and utterly without foundation.

The anonymous article goes on to claim (again with no evidence) that "Bright himself is no stranger to making allegations against the MCB that play cavalier with the truth."

This is a reference to a pamphlet for the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, which suggested that the government should reconsider its umbilical relationship with the Muslim Council of Britain, which was not as moderate as it seemed. The pamphlet, published three years ago, led to a change of policy and the MCB found itself out in the cold.

Should I take action against the Engage libel? As an anti-libel law campaigner it would provide an interesting moral conundrum. But it's a serious defamation and my chances of success would be high. 

It would certainly make for an interesting case and end the routine use of the insult "Islamophobe" by Islamists against their opponents. I would, of course, donate the money to human rights and women's organisations campaigning against the rise of radical Islam.