What a monumental and damaging breach of journalist ethics. Simon Israel, Channel 4's senior home affairs correspondent, failed to double check his informant's claims. Black British Islam convert, Abu Izzadeen/ born Trevor Brooks of Jamaican Christian parents, was falsely named for the terrifying attack in Westminster, the broadcaster has admitted.
Serious Muslim experts rebutted this false claim. BBC Pakistan correspondent Secunder Kermani said a "reliable source" told him that the man Channel 4 named is in jail. ABC journalist Rym Momtaz echoed this account, after speaking to Izzadeen’s solicitor.
Well- known to anti-terror police but unheralded in traditional Black British political and faith communities, Izzadeen has appeared in court on numerous occasions. In fact, he's been jailed since January 2016 after committing a "serious and deliberate" breach of counter-terrorism restrictions.
Hence, Simon Israel and Channel 4 named the wrong man. Forced to recant, this "error" highlights a basic issue - and a troubling one for all Black communities. Ill-thought, slovenly race and faith reporting is a failure of journalists integrity.
Ethics is critical for all media workers – and managers, said Prof Richard Keeble, author of Ethics for Journalists. “Journalists should carefully check all reports for accuracy and seek rebutting comments”. This must be the standard, especially in turbulent race- and faith baiting times. Any less than this should not be tolerated in the British media and journalist’s education.
*Thomas L Blair is an award-winning journalist, author and sociologist. He writes features for The-Latest.com and is well-known for his expert commentaries on Blacks in Britain and Afro-Europe. He is celebrating his 20th-year (1997-2017) of publishing the Chronicleworld.co.uk.