London’s only Jewish community radio station has been forced to cease broadcasting after losing a High Court libel case brought against it by the Respect MP George Galloway.
Jcom, a non-profit station which broadcast online and to a small area in north-west London, was wound up after it was told to pay the MP damages of £15,000.
Mr Galloway sued the station after one of its presenters played a spoof character based on the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and implied he was anti-Semitic. It was also ordered to pay Mr Galloway’s court costs, thought to be £5,000. Mr Galloway said that the judgment had “categorically crushed the slur of anti-Semitism”.
During a broadcast in November, a presenter who called himself “Georgie Galloway”, the station’s “Middle East correspondent”, used the catchphrase, “kill the Jews, kill the Jews”. The station immediately sacked the presenter, Richard Malach, saying he was “young and inexperienced” and had made an error of judgment while attempting to present an edgy programme. It also issued an apology on its website and offered Mr Galloway the opportunity to appear on the station, which had a very small audience. Only 36 people were listening online at the time of the offending show.
The programme was also broadcast over the radio to an area in north-west London with a three-mile radius.
But Mr Galloway said he pursued the case as the station’s apology “fell short of the categorical retraction of the imputation of anti-Semitism that I insisted upon”.
Jeremy Silverstone, the head of Jcom, said he was disappointed that the case had led to the downfall of the capital’s only Jewish radio station.