A front page story in the Sun which named Lord Sugar and other prominent British Jews as potential targets for Islamic extremists was fabricated by the article’s main source, it has been revealed.
Headlined “Terror target Sugar: Alan on Gaza ‘revenge’ list”, the piece claimed the Apprentice star and others including Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Lord Levy, Amy Winehouse and record producer Mark Ronson were on a list being drawn up of “Britons supporting Israel”.
Glen Jenvey, named by The Sun in the story as a “British anti-terror expert”, had said an online Muslim forum was being used by extremists to prepare a “hit list” and warned: “Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs.”
But following an investigation by reporter Tom Mangold for BBC Five Live’s Donal MacIntyre Show, Mr Jenvey has now admitted lying.
He said he had made up the comments on the forum under the false name “Abu Islam” and had used them to encourage other users of the site to list the names and addresses of Jews.
He then reported the false comments to a local news agency in the south west, from where the Sun picked up the story.
Mr Jenvey claims he has revealed the truth after converting to Islam. He now calls himself Omar Hamza Jenvey and told Five Live: “I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to all the British Jews who were scared. I’d like to apologise to the Sun.”
He had made the decision to apologise, he said, because “Islam and all the people teaching me are saying that I am like a new born baby. My past sins are past.
“I am fully responsible for the story. the Sun was deceived,” he said.
The Sun declined to comment on Mr Jenvey’s claims.
Andrew Bloch, spokesman for Lord Sugar, said: “At the time it caused Lord Sugar and his family a great deal of distress. If you have a headline like that splashed on the front page of the biggest selling newspaper in the country you have to take it pretty seriously. To find out it was a fabrication is obviously a great relief.
“Jenvey clearly knew that Alan Sugar’s name was the highest profile and the one that would sell the story. It took some relatively basic checks to establish that he was posting under a false name.”
Leading lawyer Anthony Julius, who was also named as a target, said he was “glad to hear” the story had not been true.
A CST spokesman said: “This took place in January, when antisemitic incidents were at record levels and tensions between communities were running high. If, as it now appears, this was all a hoax, then it was an incredibly irresponsible and inflammatory thing to have done.”
A High Court writ against the Sun, issued by Lord Sugar in February, is ongoing. The Press Complaints Commission is also currently investigating the paper’s story about him as a terror target.