Man who refused wife a get loses action against JC

By Leon Symons, February 11, 2010
Aguna: Miriam Saleh

Aguna: Miriam Saleh

A man who complained about the JC’s coverage of his refusal to give his wife a get has lost his action against the paper.

Edward Saleh’s wife Miriam divorced him three years ago. But he left her an agunah — a chained woman — unless she agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of a Beth Din that would seek to re-open the issues settled in her civil action.

Ms Saleh refused and, even now, is still unable to remarry according to Jewish law.

This week the newspaper watchdog, the Press Complaints Commission, rejected Mr Saleh’s claim that the JC’s report was inaccurate.

Mr Saleh had argued that the term agunah did not apply to Mrs Saleh, as it had a specific meaning in Jewish law, and there was a difference of opinion with his wife on this. The PCC said it could not say which interpretation was correct, but ruled that the JC’s use of it was not inaccurate “in employing the term in the particular manner it had chosen”.

Reference to Mrs Saleh having “been” to several batei din was not considered likely to have misled readers, nor did the PCC consider it inaccurate to refer to her as Mrs Saleh.

“As she had a right to speak to the newspaper in her own right, reporting her views on the matter under this name could not be considered to be an intrusion into the complainant’s privacy,” said the adjudication.

The Press Complaints Commission also determined that it was not inaccurate to describe Ms Saleh as a “strictly Orthodox woman”, even though she may have rejected the religious authority of some institutions.

Mentioning the fact that Mr Saleh was Sephardic was deemed to be simply a “descriptive explanation of the involvement of the Spanish and Portuguese Beth Din”.

Ms Saleh said this week: “I am still in the same situation, waiting for him to give me a get.”

Mr Saleh said: “I will be writing to the Independent Charter Commissioner, as I am not satisfied with the current PCC decision-making and investigation process.”

The Independent Charter Commissioner deals with complainants to the PCC who are unhappy about the way their complaint has been handled.

He also sent the JC an email still insisting that he has not refused her a get, maintaining that she is not an agunah and that the Beth Din would not reconsider the civil case because it is irrelevant to the Jewish Divorce process.

Last updated: 2:10pm, August 26 2010