West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have apologised for accusing the makers of a Channel 4 documentary of distortion.
The apology and the promise of £100,000 were made at the High Court on Thursday.
It follows comments made about a Dispatches programme, Undercover Mosque, which tackled claims of Islamic extremism in the West Midlands.The police statement said the force was wrong to make the allegations.
The statement, released to the media after the High Court hearing by West Midlands Police, said they accepted there had been no evidence that Channel 4 or the documentary makers had "misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity".
It added that the Ofcom report showed the documentary had "accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context".
The police statement concluded: "We accept, without reservation, the conclusions of Ofcom and apologise to the programme makers for the damage and distress caused by our original press release."
So, if the police now accept that the programme was wholly accurate, what are we to make of the force's earlier claim that the programme makers - Hardcash Productions - were guilty of "completely distorting" what was said? Or, indeed, of their long-running vendetta against Hardcash, which included attempting to have them prosecuted for "inciting racial hatred", and, when this plan was frustrated, making an official complaint about the documentary to the communications regulator?
Presumably the police have not seen any new footage which might have explained their change of heart. As such, their original claim that the programme distorted what was said must surely be no more or less tenable than it was when they first made it. Why, then, have they now performed a complete U-turn, and accepted that it was untenable? I suspect that it is because they always knew that the accusations they were making were utterly unfounded, but that they hoped that, by making them, they could intimidate the programme makers, and anyone else who might be tempted to criticise Islam (or, indeed, any Muslims), into silence. As with so much else that the police do these days, their conduct in this matter really does beg the question, whose side are they on?