Katie Hopkins apologises to family over al-Qaeda claims

Columnist Katie Hopkins has apologised to a Muslim family she accused of being extremists after they were refused entry to the US for a Disneyland trip.

Mail Online, which published her claim, also paid £150,000 in libel damages to the Mahmood family.

Hopkins wrongly said the family had links to al-Qaeda in two articles published in December 2015.

Her apology has been shared more than 3,500 times on Twitter, including by the Mahmood family’s MP, Stella Creasy.

But the family told the BBC’s Asian Network they wanted a personal apology by phone from Hopkins herself, adding: “She owes that to us.”

‘This lot’

The family of 11 had planned to holiday to Disneyland on 15 December 2015 but were stopped by US authorities at Gatwick Airport.

Hopkins’s article from 23 December said “you can’t blame America for not letting this lot travel to Disneyland – I wouldn’t either”.

Mail Online has now removed the story from its website, which claimed Mohammed Tariq Mahmood and his brother, Mohammed Zahid Mahmood, were extremists and published an apology.

At the time, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood said he was given no reason why US officials had refused to allow the family on board.

But Hopkins, who gained fame as a candidate in The Apprentice BBC TV series in 2007, claimed that his reason for visiting the US to go to Disneyland was a lie.

Image copyright Twitter

Stella Creasy MP, who represents the family’s Walthamstow constituency, accused Hopkins of “tucking away” her apology, which she published on Twitter at 02:00 GMT.

“Do feel this late night tucked away one should be given more prominence,” she said on Twitter.

Ms Creasy had called on the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, to challenge the US for stopping the Mahmoods from boarding their flight to Los Angeles.

Trump praise

Tariq Mahmood told the BBC it was “a great relief” to have the record set straight, but said he feared there would “always be feelings towards us” from “those who hate Muslims”.

“Once you drill a hole in the wall, you can fill it but the mark will always be there,” he added.

Hopkins, who joined the Mail Online in November last year, is known for airing controversial views, having compared migrants to “cockroaches” while a writer at the Sun.

Before she wrote about the Mahmoods, president-elect Donald Trump had already praised Hopkins for “powerful writing on the UK’s Muslim problems”. Hopkins replied on Twitter, saying “you have support in the UK”