Tuesday 25 October 2016

British Prime Minister in embarrassing climb-down after calling former imam supporter of Islamic State

Published 11/05/2016 | 21:00

British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron apologises for "any misunderstanding" after calling former imam Sulaiman Ghani a supporter of Islamic State, Downing Street has said.

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In the run-up to the local elections, the British Prime Minister used question time in the Commons to accuse Labour's mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan of repeatedly sharing a platform with the ex-cleric, who he branded a backer of the jihadist organisation.

The premier told MPs: ''Sulaiman Ghani, Mr Khan has appeared on a platform with him nine times.

''This man supports IS. He even shared a platform ... I think they are shouting down this point because they don't want to hear the truth.

''Anyone can make a mistake about who they appear on a platform with. We're not always responsible for what our political opponents say. But if you do it time after time after time it is right to question your judgment.''

Downing Street said Mr Cameron was referring to reports that Mr Ghani supports "an" Islamic state.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "In reference to the Prime Minister's comments on Sulaiman Ghani, the Prime Minister was referring to reports that he supports an Islamic state. The Prime Minister is clear this does not mean Mr Ghani supports the organisation Daesh and he apologises to him for any misunderstanding."

It comes after the Defence Secretary apologised for echoing the accusations during a Radio 4 interview.

Michael Fallon's aides said he had been quoting BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil when he made the "inadvertent error".

Mr Ghani, a former imam at the Tooting Islamic Centre, is threatening legal action after being described as a supporter of the jihadist group.

A spokesman for Mr Fallon said: "Michael made clear he was quoting a claim by Andrew Neil on a BBC mayoral debate programme. He was unaware of the clarification and apology that the BBC had issued on Neil's claim.

"Had he been aware, he would not of course have quoted him and as soon as he became aware he put the record straight. He naturally apologises for this inadvertent error."

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