Nick Clegg attacks Policy Exchange for “offensive” and “underhand” briefing – UPDATED

by Stephen Tall on March 30, 2009

LDV readers may recall that last October, we ran a piece highlighting Nick Clegg’s attack on think-tank Policy exchange for circulating a a dossier questioning apparent extremist background of several of the events speakers at a forthcoming Global Peace and Unity event in London. Nick, who spoke at the event, accused the Policy Exchange’s director of “bizarre and underhand behaviour”, and questioned the validity of the evidence – attracting some flak from LDV readers in the comments thread.

I was, therefore, interested to read this article today on Liberal Conspiracy under the headline, Exclusive: Policy Exchange forced to apologise; takes report off website:

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. …

Policy Exchange has … withdrawn the entire report from its website.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 Centre’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 Centre’s trustees or staff, who condemn the extremist and intolerant views set out in such literature. We are happy to set the record straight.

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6 comments

All of which serves to confirm Policy Exchange as a doctrinaire think tank of little or no credibility.

But does nothing to alter the fact that Clegg shared a platform last year with a supporter of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, a Holocaust denier, and a guy who thinks that 9/11 was a Zionist plot.

by Laurence Boyce on March 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm. Reply #

As Laurence says … doctrinaire think tank with little or no credibility. But the Liberal Conspiracy piece refers top a completely different PEx report than Nick Clegg and this vague conflation of the two isn’t particularly helpful.

Newsnight expose – autumn 2007 piece on Mosques allegedly selling extreme literature, backed by hooky receipts.

Godson was going to sue the BBC was he not? And accused them of endangering his under-cover muppets.

Nick Clegg issue – autumn 2008 briefing which as Laurence again correctly points out might even have had a bit more about it.

Connected by being a bit wide and snide, and PEx, and Islam … but different.

Dean Godson is a hateful right-wing shitbag; and PEx – even back in Iain Dale’s days as a Trustee – is hateful etc too. But can you please explain why you are conflating 2007 and 2008 activities Stephen?

by Chris Paul on March 31, 2009 at 10:20 am. Reply #

You should check your facts before repeating Sunny Hundal’s spin verbatim.

The Policy Exchange statement can hardly be termed a “humiliating climbdown” when there is absolutely nothing in its content that is contrary to the original report, ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’. The ‘Hijacking’ report never claimed that the mosque authorities knew the extremist literature was being sold and distributed on the site. Indeed the report specifically stated that the mosque authorities might need help to cope with hate literature being unofficially disseminated!

Furthermore the Policy Exchange statement is in no way an “apology”. How often have you seen newspapers etc “apologising unreservedly” for error and hurt caused? The Policy Exchange statement reads nothing like that!

Rather, it’s a simple acceptance of assurances made by Al-Manaar that they were unaware of extremist literature being distributed – a tacit admission that they may have a problem with rogue traders selling material on site.

Hence, if anything, it is Al-Manaar that has been forced to make concessions and admissions.

What damages has Al-Manaar received? Wouldn’t they be trumpeting that all over their website?

Indeed, it would seem that the sum achievement of Al-Manaar’s litigation was that Policy Exchange accepted their tacit admission that they have limited control over the dissemination of literature on their own premises. This suggests that their case was flimsy, and ultimately a pathetic failure. THAT should be the story here.

And what is the connection between the Policy Exchange statement about Al-Manaar and the unavailability of the ‘Hijacking’ report on their website? Hundal has put 2 and 2 together and made 20!

by Jake Pearson on April 3, 2009 at 2:46 pm. Reply #

1.Al-Manaar disputed the authenticity of receipts collected by Policy Exchange researchers on its premises, and started legal proceedings.

2.The case ended with a Policy Exchange statement re-stating precisely what it said in ‘Hijacking of British Islam’.

3.Policy Exchange did not issue an apology.

4.Al-Manaar did not receive damages or costs.

5.Al-Manaar has not even mentioned the conclusion of the case on its website.

6.There is only one logical conclusion to be drawn — Al-Manaar accepts that the receipts which it disputed were not fabricated. In other words, NEWSNIGHT WAS DUPED.

In the Middle East, where the Al-Manaar management comes from, this type of ‘victory’ is framed in simple terms. Mideasterners understand precisely what is meant by a ‘I won because I say so’ victory. What a pity that this blog fell for it.

by facts on April 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm. Reply #

Its great to see that plenty of sock-puppets writing in favour of Policy Exchange have turned up here too.

Al-Manaar accepts that the receipts which it disputed were not fabricated. In other words, NEWSNIGHT WAS DUPED.

Oh really? In which case, where was Policy Exchange’s threatened lawsuit against the BBC?

You apologists for Policy Exchange are pathetic.

by Sunny on April 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm. Reply #

How typical of someone who cannot answer the inconsistencies in his claims to label those with an opposing view as ‘sock-puppets’. This is what psychologists call ‘mirror-imaging’. Who are you a sock-puppet for, sunny?

On sunny’s planet, people who disagree with him must be “writing in favour of Policy Exchange”. Has it occurred to you that they are looking for empirical evidence? Tell us why al-Manaar and the MCB have not announced the outcome of this case publicly. Can it be that al-Manaar did not receive the apology you claim for them, because there was no case to answer? Can it?

by facts on April 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm. Reply #

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