File photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron. (Photo: Reuters)
British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to an imam on Thursday after wrongly branding him a supporter of the Islamic State militant group.
Cameron used a rare parliamentary device to set the record straight, having made the accusation in the lower House of Commons.
In the run-up to the London mayoral election won by opposition Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, Conservative leader Cameron on two seaprate occasions said Khan had repeatedly shared a platform with the imam.
"Sulaiman Ghani, Mr Khan has appeared on a platform with him nine times. This man supports IS," Cameron said.
IS is also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh.
In his apology, which appeared in parliament's official record, Cameron said: "I was referring to reports that Mr Ghani supports an Islamic state.
"I am clear that this does not mean Mr Ghani supports the organisation Daesh and I apologise to him for any misunderstanding."
Because Cameron's allegations ere made in parliament, he was covered by legal immunity.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon apologised Wednesday for his "inadvertent error" in echoing the comments in a radio interview. Ghani is in discussions with lawyers over possible legal action.
Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain umbrella group, said: "As a result of these smears, we understand that Imam Ghani has been subject to abuse and threats on his life.
"Imam Ghani became the innocent casualty of a wider Islamophobic attack on the now mayor of London and the Conservative Party needs to apologise for this too."