Socialist newspaper The Morning Star has apologised to a Jewish journalist after publishing accusations of his “agenda” on Labour antisemitism by his interviewee.
The paper apologised to freelance journalist Etan Smallman over the fall-out from an interview he conducted with author Lauren Booth, Cherie Blair’s half-sister, about her book ‘Finding Peace in the Holy Land.’
Booth, who converted to Islam in 2010, wrote in The Morning Star that Smallman had “a clear agenda,” used “mental gymnastics,” and that his Twitter feed showed “a big affection for all tropes related to Labour as antisemitic to its inner core”.
In the 20 September article, she also accused him of insisting her book “be re-edited to insert a more pro-Israeli balance”.
The paper acknowledged this was not the case, calling the accusation “offensive and wrong,” and apologised to Smallman for “failing to investigate the basis for these allegations before printing them”.
In 2008 Booth sailed to Gaza in a convoy to highlight the naval blockade of the Strip, as Tony Blair met Israeli leaders in Jerusalem in his role as Middle East peace envoy.
In her submission to the paper, printed before Smallman’s interview had even been published, Booth wrote: “I knew the P-word [Palestine] would draw a certain kind of journalist to circle my book launch seeking the first scent of blood”.
The paper said it accepted this to be “wholly without basis” because Smallman, who conducted the interview for i, had been sent to interview Booth by his editor and had only ever written one previous article on Israel-Palestine.
Last month Smallman tweeted that Booth’s article was “defamatory” and contained “a litany of inaccuracies” that could be proved by Booth’s own personal recording of the interview.
The Morning Star’s prominent page 4 apology included an apology to readers “for printing such a misleading article”.
The Morning Star has published this extensive apology for a defamatory article about me, by Lauren Booth, which was full of falsehoods.
I'm sure she would much rather people didn't see it. So, whatever you do, please don't share it!https://t.co/XyhysyNFcW pic.twitter.com/hL2VuLii4L
— Etan Smallman (@EtanSmallman) November 3, 2018