Ofcom has dismissed complaints of antisemitism and impartiality against Carter-Ruck client Al Jazeera over its 2017 documentary series The Lobby.
Activists Luke Akehurst, Russell Langer and Ella Rose accused Al-Jazeera of breaches of privacy and unfair editing in relation to the documentary, which featured an undercover reporter and secret filming.
Kingsley Napley acted on behalf of Labour activist Akehurst and Langer, the public affairs manager for the Jewish leadership council. Langer was secretly filmed speaking to senior Israeli diplomat Shai Masot which he argued infringed his privacy and amounted to unjust or unfair treatment.
Masot would later hit headlines in the UK as for being caught on camera outlining his intention “take down” British MPs regarded as hostile to Israel, including the minister for foreign and commonwealth affairs Sir Alan Duncan.
Duncan has voiced support for an independent Palestinian state and in past speeches likened Israel’s policy towards Palestine to apartheid in South Africa. Masot was forced to resign following the diplomatic outrage and the Israeli ambassador apologised to the foreign and commonwealth office.
The fourth complaint appears to have been lodged by pressure groups who claimed the programme failed to honour due impartiality and was antisemitic in nature.
Ofcom said it “considered that the programme had included a range of viewpoints on this matter of political controversy … in light of the nature of the programme and its particular subject matter, we considered that the programme had maintained due impartiality”.
On the claims of antisemitism, Ofcom said it “did not consider that […]a critical analysis of the actions of a foreign state constituted anti-Semitism, particularly as the overall focus of the programme was to examine whether the state of Israel was acting in a manner that would be expected of other democratic nations”.
The decision added that footage was not edited in such a way as to result in unfairness to any complainant, and that infringements of privacy were not unwarranted “as it allowed the broadcaster to demonstrate the concerns it had about activities of the Israeli Embassy in the UK through Mr Masot and its attempts to potentially influence UK Government policy through his links with various individuals and organisations”.
Carter-Ruck senior partner Cameron Doley said: “This is a robust set of decisions from Ofcom which fully vindicate Al-Jazeera. Ofcom’s accurate and clear stance will hopefully deter people from making unwarranted claims in future, and will help uphold the spirit and practice of investigative journalism.”
Kingsley Napley was contacted for comment.