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Policy Exchange has … withdrawn the entire report from its website.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.