Sunday Times apologises to Labour Council Leader and settles defamation claim

Times Newspapers have settled a defamation claim brought by Cllr Nesil Caliskan, the Labour Leader of Enfield Council, about an article by its then journalist Andrew Gilligan, published as a page lead in the Sunday Times on 15 July 2018, and headlined “Enfield Labour council ‘taken over’ by clan”. Cllr Caliskan had just been elected as the first female Muslim Council Leader in the country, and the first ever female and BAME, and the youngest ever Leader of Enfield.

The Sunday Times article published the statement (emphasis added) that “Caliskan is not related to Erbil, but has appointed her own mother, Alev Cazimoglu, who is also a councillor, as cabinet member for health and social care. Cazimoglu has experience in this role.”

In reality, Cllr Cazimoglu did not merely have “experience in the role” but had already held the same Cabinet post in the previous Leader’s administration. The Cabinet were elected by members of the Labour Group by secret ballot, not chosen by Cllr Caliskan, and Cllr Caliskan’s involvement was limited to allocating Cabinet portfolios, and she retained Cllr Cazimoglu in her previous portfolio.

Mark Henderson was instructed with Zillur Rahman of Rahman Lowe to pursue a defamation claim, in which Cllr Caliskan complained that the statement that she appointed “her own mother” carried a false defamatory imputation of nepotism which was done to link her to the alleged “clan” take over, and which fed into racist stereotypes of people from Turkish speaking backgrounds as lumped together as one homogenous inter-related group or community.

The reference to a “clan” was subsequently removed from the online publication. A final settlement of the claim has now been reached between the Sunday Times and Cllr Caliskan following commencement of proceedings. Some of the terms are confidential. However, Cllr Caliskan is able to confirm that Times Newspapers have made a financial settlement to her in the form of a contribution to costs.

The Sunday Times has published a Correction in its 22 September 2019 print edition and online accepting that Cllr Cazimoglu was elected to the Cabinet by secret ballot and Cllr Caliskan simply reappointed her to the portfolio she had already held. The Sunday Times apologised for distress caused to Cllr Caliskan by its publication.

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The Correction was published in print and online in the Sunday Times on 22 September 2019. It states:

“In an article published on 15 July 2018 (“Enfield Labour council ‘taken over’ by clan”, News 15 July) we stated that Enfield Council Leader Nesil Caliskan had appointed her own mother, Cllr Cazimoglu, as cabinet member for health and social care. We are happy to clarify that Ms Cazimoglu’s appointment to cabinet was by way of secret ballot among Labour councillors, and was not made directly by her daughter, and that Ms Caliskan’s role in the process was limited to choosing for her mother the portfolio she had already held in a previous administration. We apologise for any distress caused.”

It is published on the Sunday Times website here: