The right-wing thinktank Policy Exchange has been forced into a humiliating climbdown over its report, ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’, for making allegations in the report that it now admits were unsubstantiated.
In late 2007 Policy Exchange published the report, reported in the right-wing press without any further fact-checking, that around a quarter of Mosques and Muslim centres of the 100 they visited, were carrying ‘hate literature’.
Only BBC Newsnight bothered looking further and found that some of the allegations made in the report were refuted by the very organisations accused of selling hate literature.
See the Newsnight report below:
In response to the Newsnight report (see this update), both Dean Godson (head of its Foreign Policy & Security Unit) and Charles Moore (chair of the board) huffed and puffed – saying the BBC should have focused on the report, despite its false allegations, rather than exposing holes in their own report. Its representatives had even threatened legal action against the BBC.
Charles Moore himself stated:
Policy Exchange bases its work on evidence, and so its evidence must be sound.
And so on 19th December Policy Exchange released a statement standing by their report.
But when Policy Exchange didn’t say more, or alert others to progress with its internal inquiry, two of the groups mentioned in the report launched legal action against Policy Exchange.
I emailed a senior Muslim community worker about the case. He said, off-the-record:
When I met MCHC management recently, I asked them about the legal case. They told me that PE had agreed to change the text of their report and apologise to MCHC on their website, to avoid the full legal action. I’m now told that the mosques report has been removed entirely from the PE website. If this is true, I wouldn’t be surprised, since changing the report and apologising publicly would have been humilation for them, so my guess is that they took the option of quietly removing the report from the website.
It has also published this humiliating apology:
The Hijacking of British Islam:
Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre
In this report we state that Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre is one of the Centres where extremist literature was found. Policy Exchange accepts the Centreâ€™s assurances that none of the literature cited in the Report has ever been sold or distributed at the Centre with the knowledge or consent of the Centreâ€™s trustees or staff, who condemn the extremist and intolerant views set out in such literature. We are happy to set the record straight.
Charles Moore hasn’t said anything about the controversy recently.
And I look forward to the people on Harry’s Place saying something about this too.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Media,Muslim,Organisations