Broadcaster pays ‘substantial damages’ to refugee charity after defamatory statements

14 Jun 2023 News

Stockfotos-MG / Adobe

TalkTV has issued an apology and paid substantial damages to Migrants Organise after its presenter made defamatory statements about the charity. 

Host Mike Graham made allegations that suggested Migrants Organise funded illegal migration and facilitated fraud and terrorism, for which TalkTV later stated there “wasn’t a factual basis”. 

The comments, made on 10 June 2022 and repeatedly shared on Twitter three days later, inspired “a torrent of hateful messages and threats against Migrants Organise and its charitable funders,” the charity said.

Migrants Organise pursued legal action due to the allegations, which they believed could harm the charity’s reputation and work. 

After negotiations, presenter Graham and TalkTV agreed to publish an apology for the claims made.

News UK Broadcasting Ltd, the owner of TalkTV, agreed to pay its legal costs and substantial damages.

Migrants Organise told Civil Society it does not wish to disclose the sum in the settlement. 

TalkTV: ‘This was not our intention’

TalkTV’s apology statement reads: “We’ve been contacted by the charity Migrants Organise regarding discussion on The Independent Republic of Mike Graham show and Twitter on 10 and 13 June 2022. 

“They have expressed concern it was suggested that they were ‘funded to help illegal migration’, were ‘human traffickers’, and that they facilitated fraud and terrorism by advising asylum seekers to falsify information to bolster their asylum claims. 

“We are happy to clarify that it was not our or Mike’s intention to make those allegations and we accept there wasn’t a factual basis for doing so. There were criticisms of Migrants Organise in the show and we should have offered the charity the opportunity to come on and respond. We apologise for not doing that and have agreed to pay them damages and legal costs.” 

Migrants Organise: ‘We are pleased to have resolved this matter’

Migrants Organise CEO Zrinka Bralo said: “We are pleased to have resolved this matter and received an apology and damages for the false and damaging allegations. We sought to protect our reputation and the safety of our people – migrants and refugees, our volunteers, staff, allies and supporters who work for dignity and justice. 

“We were exposed to hate and threats of violence as a result of the mischaracterisation of our work and the dehumanisation of people in need, and we had to take a stand.”

“This victory is for the people behind these headlines, people who have no voice or representation, people who are scapegoated, demonised and dehumanised. Their resilience is the source of hope for all of us. The least we can do is to treat them with humanity, and instead of blaming them for all our problems, we should look for more ways to welcome them.”

The charity stated that the damages received from the settlement will be used to further support its mission to help migrants and refugees rebuild their lives. 

Legal team: ‘Migrants Organise have shown courage’

Migrants Organise expressed thanks to its members, funders, partner organisations and legal team for their support during the process.

Its legal team consisted of Zillur Rahman from Rahman Lowe Solicitors and Mark Henderson from Doughty Street Chambers. 

Rahman said: “We have seen a real increase in the hostility towards migrants and refugees in the last few years under this government. I am delighted for Migrants Organise, who have been vindicated. They have shown great courage in challenging the false and often dangerous rhetoric around migrants and refugees. I hope this also serves as a lesson to conservative media outlets and their presenters to ensure that they are more responsible in what they say and publish on this topic”.  

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the Civil Society News daily bulletin here.


More on