Galloway spoof that closed down a radio station

A Jewish community radio station has closed down after it lost a libel case brought by the controversial MP George Galloway.

During a Jcom broadcast last November, a presenter made remarks construing Mr Galloway as antisemitic, while pretending to be the Respect MP and referring to him as the station's "Middle East correspondent".

The spoof character, "Georgie" Galloway, used the catchphrase "kill the Jews, kill the Jews".

On Thursday last week Mr Galloway was awarded £15,000 and around £5,000 costs at the High Court. He said he was pleased the judgment had "crushed the slur of antisemitism" against him.

The not-for-profit station, which broadcast on the internet, ceased trading the same day. It had previously acknowledged its error, let go of the presenter, Richard Malach, whom it described as "young and inexperienced", and offered Mr Galloway the opportunity to go on air in an attempt to avoid legal action. He refused, and continued with the action.

Jeremy Silverstone, chair of Jcom, said: "While we accept the judge's view that Mr Galloway is not antisemitic, it is somewhat ironic that in his determination to prove it, he has effectively shut down London's only Jewish radio station.

"We were pleased that Mr Justice Eady recognised the feature was clearly intended as a spoof, understood the relatively small scale of the audience, and gave us significant credit for the apology we made on our website."

Mr Galloway said: "I'm pleased that this judgment has categorically crushed the slur of antisemitism.

"The station initially brushed aside my complaint about the broadcast, then refused to agree a form of words by way of apology, then published on its website a form of words that I found unacceptable, leaving little option but legal action.

"I'm afraid Jcom have themselves to blame for any difficulty they are now in. The Jewish community would doubtless benefit from a serious and professionally-run community radio station. Jcom has fallen well short of that. Its audience deserves better."

In February, media watchdog Ofcom decided no action would be taken against the station. It had first been informed about the broadcast in a letter from Richard Ford, founder of Shalom FM, another now-defunct station.

This week Mr Ford said: "I felt that, through their broadcast, Jcom were demeaning the good name of Jewish broadcasting. When they slandered George Galloway I wrote a letter to Ofcom complaining about their programme.

"I have no idea how Mr Galloway's solicitors obtained a copy of this letter to use in evidence and it certainly was not my intention for him to use it in any action he could bring against Jcom."

 

. . . And this is not his first clash with Anglo-Jewry

July 2007: Mr Galloway attacked Labour MP Andrew Dismore in Parliament for being a "fanatical supporter of Israel". He was told not to attack the integrity of committee members. 

December 2006: He angered a student at London's Wentworth Tutorial College with his remarks about the Middle East, provoking the student to hurl a bottle of water him.

November 2006: Students from Birmingham University's Jewish Society, Labour, Tory, gay and lesbian groups united to hold a demo showing their collective disdain for him.

August 2006: He clashed with the National Union of Students for his public support for Hizbollah. Speaking at an anti-war rally, he said: "I am here to glorify the Lebanese resistance, Hizbollah." The NUS pointed to comments made by Nasrallah in 2000, in which he described Nazi atrocities as a legend "invented by the Jews" and passed a motion censuring Galloway.

    Last updated: 3:56pm, October 10 2008

    COMMENTS

    ianhenry100

    Tue, 08/12/2008 - 23:50

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    I am so grateful for the thoughtfulness and inetgrity of Richard Ford and his close friend Michael Mendoza a presenter at Talksport for bringing the most demeaning comments that I never heard (and probably very few others actually heard) on JCom radio, to the attention of Georgous George. How wonderful that Richard was on guard at that moment to catch the villainous broadcaster, we are so lucky to have a volunteer like Ford to protect our community's integrity.   In the tradition of politicians GG could donate his winnings to one of the many causes he is proud to support like the Saddam Hussein Admiration Society or perhaps Hezbollah.  But somehow I have the feeling that Ford was more motivated by a good old dose of sourest grapes than anything else.  Well Done Richard you do so much for our community, especially our image.