The Jewish Chronicle

Pro-Israel activist wins Hope not Hate apology


ANTI-RACIST CAMPAIGNER­S Hope Not Hate have apologised and been ordered to pay costs to a Jewish woman after falsely accusing her of being among a group who attacked a London socialist bookshop.

The organisati­on published an article in August 2018 claiming that there was video evidence Sharon Klaff was among a group of around 12 people who entered Booksmarks in Bloomsbury as staff were closing up and filmed themselves chanting far-right slogans, tearing up magazines and knocking over displays.

Ms Klaff, a controvers­ial pro-Israel activist, took legal action and Hope Not Hate apologised to her in a statement read out at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The JC understand­s Hope Not Hate was also ordered to pay damages and legal fees of between £40,000 and £50,000.

Hope Not Hate’s solicitor-advocate Ellen Gallagher told the court: “The reference to Ms Klaff being present at the bookshop was an honest mistake.

“On the day that the article was published, the defendant learned of its error and immediatel­y took down the reference to Ms Klaff and published an apology.

“The defendant is here to again offer its sincere apologies to Ms Klaff.”

William Bennett QC, representi­ng Ms Klaff, described her as a “law abiding citizen”, saying she had been caused “great upset and consternat­ion” by Hope Not Hate’s actions.

“As a Jew, she was particular­ly horrified by the implicit suggestion that she had participat­ed in a Nazi-like threat to burn books,” he said.

Mark Lewis acted as Ms Klaff’s solicitor.

Ms Klaff said it had been a “very difficult time”, claiming Hope Not Hate’s article caused “deliberate attacks from people who assumed it was true just because Hope Not Hate said it”.

In a statement after the hearing, she added: “This is not only a victory for me but for the truth, for honesty and integrity and for all those who support what I and my fellow activists do in outing antisemiti­c hatred for Jews and Israel.

“Knowing that this false informatio­n caused people, some within my own community, to believe that I could raid a bookshop and burn books has been very hurtful. This apology must serve as a reminder that it is essential for everyone to check the facts before disseminat­ing informatio­n contrived to defame.”

A spokesman for Hope Not Hate repeated the organisati­on made an “honest mistake”, saying it corrected the article hours after it was published and offered an apology at the time.

He added: “We’re happy to repeat that apology again because a mistake was made.”

Ms Klaff has been at the centre of controvers­y within the Jewish community in recent weeks after she co-hosted an event where far-right provocateu­r Katie Hopkins screened her anti-Islam documentar­y Homelands.

The event triggered outrage and was condemned by Jewish communal leaders.

Sir Mick Davis, the ex-Jewish Leadership Council chair and chief executive of the Conservati­ve Party, wrote in the JC: “We cannot defeat antisemiti­sm by teaming up with people who mindlessly hate Muslims. Our fight against bigotry cannot be fought alongside bigots.”

Hope not Hate was ordered to pay damages of £40-£50k

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