28 June 2013
Daily Mail pays libel after Syria hoax
A British defence company has accepted substantial libel compensation believed to be around £110,000 after the Daily Mail reported on a hoax involving it.
Britam Defence's development director David Goulding and founder Philip Doughty launched legal action over an article published on the Mail Online website in January 2013.
The story reported allegations that had surfaced on the internet that the US government had backed a plot that would see chemical weapons launched in Syria to destabilise the ruling Assad regime.
Excerpts in the article referenced an email said to have been sent by Mr Goulding to Mr Doughty that admitted involvement in the plot, which later turned out to have been a hoax that was fabricated online.
Mr Goulding and Mr Doughty were appalled to have been incorrectly linked with the conspiracy theory and the fact that the Daily Mail printed superfluous accusations against them was what brought the case to trial.
As part of the settlement agreed between Britam and Mail Online, an apology was posted that attempted to set the record straight.
An excerpt read: "We now accept that email was fabricated and acknowledge there is no truth in any suggestion that Britam or its directors were willing to consider taking part [in the] plot, which may have led to an atrocity.
"We apologise to each of them and have agreed to pay substantial damages."
Lawyers acting on behalf of Mr Goulding and Mr Doughty said the story implied the duo would be willing to be paid money to kill hundreds of innocent civilians and that it constituted libel.
Additionally, the solicitors said the article had caused "considerable distress and embarrassment" for the executives.
A hacking attack against Britam's computer system in Singapore is currently underway and it is believed dozens of emails from high ranking members of the firm may have been intercepted by cyber criminals or terrorists.
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Posted by Chris Stevenson