UK: Police complaints over "Undercover Mosque" documentary rejected
Media watchdog Ofcom has rejected complaints by West Midlands Police about a Channel 4 undercover programme that exposed extremism in British mosques.
Police claimed that the Dispatches programme had misrepresented the views of Muslim preachers and clerics in Birmingham with misleading editing.
Following today's ruling, the broadcaster called the police's actions "perverse" and said they had, in some people's eyes, given "legitimacy to people preaching a message of hate".
Ofcom said: "Undercover Mosque was a legitimate investigation, uncovering matters of important public interest. Ofcom found no evidence that the broadcaster had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity.
"On the evidence (including untransmitted footage and scripts), Ofcom found that the broadcaster had accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context."
The programme featured undercover recordings from speakers alleged to be homophobic, anti-Semitic, sexist and condemnatory of non-Muslims.
Excerpts from preachers and teachers included "Allah created the woman deficient" and "by the age of ten, it becomes an obligation on us to force her (young girls) to wear hijab and if she doesn't wear hijab, we hit her".
Other statements included "take that homosexual and throw him off the mountain" and "whoever changes his religion from Al Islam to anything else - kill him in the Islamic state".
Police initially launched an investigation into whether criminal offences had been committed at the mosques and other organisations featured in the programme.
They then said that it considered offences may have been committed by those involved in the production and broadcast of the programme, specifically in stirring up racial hatred.
After the Crown Prosecution Service advised that the prospect of conviction was unlikely, police referred Undercover Mosque to Ofcom, complaining that intense editing had misrepresented those featured in the programme.
Ofcom also rejected the 364 viewers' complaints it received after the programme was broadcast, which it said appeared to be part of a campaign.