Those members of the
Australian media with a penchant for naming and reporting accusations
about suspected terrorists, and peppering their reports with qualifiers
like “allegedly,” might want to take note of this recent apology in the London Sun.

The Sun
has been forced to apologise and pay damages to a Moroccan-born British
citizen it falsely accused of being a fanatical terrorist. Lawyers for
Mohamed El Guerbouzi said that the paper had accused their client of
terrorism on two occasions, once in March last year and again in July,
after the London bombings. “The Sun wrongly accused Mohamed El
Guerbouzi of being a fanatical terrorist warlord who was on the run in
England, and named him as a major al-Qaida suspect connected to the
bombings in London and Madrid,” Mr Guerbozi’s counsel John Samson said
in a statement in the High Court.

Unlike our home grown suspected terrorists who’ve stumbled into the
media glare, Mr Guerbozi was never charged with any crime, but his case
still serves as a warning to overenthusiastic hacks who sometimes
forget the innocent until proven guilty adage in their haste to talk up
the terror threat.

The Sun apologised for
the upset caused to Mr Guerbozi and withdrew the allegations against him. It
will also pay damages and Mr Guerbozi’s legal costs, and lawyers for Mr
Guerbozi are looking at similar allegations in other newspapers and are
considering launching further libel proceedings.