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