Ed Miliband lookalike tweeter loses PCC appeal


A Twitter user and former professional Ed Miliband lookalike who was alleged to have posted antisemitic and threatening messages has lost his appeal to the Press Complaints Commission.

Shereef Abdallah went to the watchdog after details of tirades against Jewish or pro-Israel users, made under his name, were revealed in the Jewish Chronicle and three other newspapers in January.

Messages posted from his account included comments such as "racist tory anti Islamic scum" and "your nightmare is just starting", as well as that the sender planned to "hunt" his targets down and "end" them.

Mr Abdallah, a former volunteer for MP Glenda Jackson, had his Labour Party membership suspended after the allegations came to light. He was arrested and later released on bail.

The recipients of the messages included a woman who supports liberal intervention in the Middle East, a former Labour Party press officer, and a British-Israeli woman who challenged the sender on the use of the word "Nazi".

He complained to the PCC that the claims were untrue and that he was a victim of hacking.

However the PCC accepted that the JC's coverage had made it clear that, at the time of writing, the claims were allegations.

"The complainant had been arrested by the police for sending malicious communications," the PCC ruled. "The existence of allegations of the sending of inappropriate messages was not in dispute and was plainly an issue that the police considered worthy of investigation."

The PCC noted that follow-up stories were linked together to give a full picture. "The Commission considered that readers of the newspaper's coverage of the story as a whole would not have been misled as to correct position," said the PCC.

The watchdog also noted that Mr Abdallah had declined to comment when contacted "thus denying himself the chance to publicly challenge the version of events presented by the newspaper or assert that his account had been hacked", so there was no breach of the requirement for "a fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies".

In the ruling, they added that "publication of the article did not represent the newspaper failing to respect the complainant's private life".

"An individual's arrest for alleged criminal activity is not a private matter," ruled the PCC.

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