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Policy Exchange: You win some, you lose some…


5:44 pm - November 30th 2009

by Unity    


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Sunny’s busy elsewhere at the moment, so I guess I’d better take on the news that the North London Central Mosque’s libel action against Tory think-tank, Policy Exchange, has been struck out by Justice Eady, leaving the trustees of the mosque facing a £75,000 legal bill just to cover PX’s legal bills.

The case related to allegations made in a 2007 report by Denis McEoin, ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’, which was withdrawn earlier this year, at the same time as it issued this apology to one of the organisations named in the report as allegedly selling extremist literature.

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.

The key phrase in this piece of news seems to be ‘struck out’, which gives no clues whatsoever as to the reason that the mosque’s libel action failed. As yet, there’s nothing on BAILI relating to this case, so whether it failed on a technicality, or because the mosque was unable to put forward a viable case, or even because Justice Eady decided that the mosque has no reputation to defend is anyone’s guess.

I must admit to being a little disappointed that this case failed to all the way to a full hearing, not because I really give a toss about either side winning or losing but because it might have shed just a little bit more light on the circumstances that resulted in McEoin incorporating fabricated evidence in his report. In lieu of such a full account, Richard Bartholomew has posted what may be the most credible account of the circumstances in which fake receipts found their way into Policy Exchange’s report:

The main problem was that the author, Denis MacEoin, was let down by his collaborators. In December 2007, BBC Newsnight showed that receipts used to prove that certain texts could be bought from certain bookshops had been forged. Rather than investigating this discovery, Policy Exchange’s Dean Godson instead gave a blustering performance on the show and promised to sue for libel: in his words, action would be pursued “to trial or capitulation”. However, no trial or capitulation were forthcoming.

Before going on to add that:

Dominic Wightman, who collaborated with MacEoin on another report, for Civitas (as “Dominic Whiteman”), suggested to me some months ago that the anonymous researchers sent to the sites to purchase the books had made the forgeries in order to inflate their expenses, which seems a reasonable explanation (despite my problems with Wightman on other matters).

That all fits neatly into the general principle that its better to assume a cock-up before thinking in terms of a conspiracy.

The upshot of all this seems to be that the allegation that extremist literature was being distributed from the North London Central Mosque, or from a bookshop associated with it, does not rest solely on the evidence provided by the forged receipts exposed by Newsnight, but can be readily verified by other means.

This does not, however, appear to have been the case in regards to Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, hence the apology and the decision to withdraw the report.

Despite efforts to spin the NLCM case as a clear win for Policy Exchange, it remains the case that:

a) it did have to withdraw the report due to it containing false allegations relating to the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre,

b) it did have to issue the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage an unequivocal and rather humiliating apology, and

c) the report did make use of fabricated evidence, albeit that it does appear that in the case of the North London Central Mosque, the faked receipts were not needed to sustain the allegations against it.

In noting that, I fear I may have disappointed one or two people over at The Spittoon, who appear to have been expecting something along these lines…

I look forward to reading the gleeful accounts of this “humiliating climbdown” that will no doubt follow on ‘Liberal Conspiracy’ and its ilk.

Ah yes, of course. The studied, if not deafening, silence on LC will be gleeful indeed.

Sorry guys, looks like your crystal ball’s on the blink…

…but do keep working on those comprehension exercises, you’ll get there eventually.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Reader comments


The upshot of all this seems to be that the allegation that extremist literature was being distributed from the North London Central Mosque, or from a bookshop associated with it, does not rest solely on the evidence provided by the forged receipts exposed by Newsnight, but can be readily verified by other means.

Why does the phrase “no shit, Sherlock” spring to mind?!

The key phrase in this piece of news seems to be ’struck out’, which gives no clues whatsoever as to the reason that the mosque’s libel action failed.

Au contraire. It gives an extremely good clue. Cases can be struck out in three circumstances – they amount to an abuse of process (e.g.: are vexatious, scurrilous or ill-founded); there are no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim; or the claimant has breached a provision that leads to automatic striking out. CPR Rule 3.4 if you want to go and check my working.

Getting a case struck out is pretty hard – and usually a sign that the claimants/defendants in question were either preternaturally incompetent or had no semblance of a case.

Tim:

This one’s slightly more complicated than usual because the fact that the mosque is operated by a unincorporated charitable trust throws up a couple of very technical possibilities in regards to its legal status and whether it can legitimately make use of charitable funds to pursue a defamation action.

That said, as its only managed to file its annual return and account on time once in the last four years, I’m inclined to think that preternaturally incompetent may not be that far from the truth.

4. Just Visiting

off topic warning – but has any of the keen atheists here followed the case of Negar Azizmoradi -she faces the death penalty for apostasy in Iran, if the Turkish authorities decide to send her back.

http://www.ansamed.info/en/news/ME03.XAM10470.html

5. Just Visiting

Back on track… a reaction from a leading Islamic figure:

Egypts mufti Ali Gomaa: “This proposal…is not considered just an attack on freedom of beliefs, but also an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside Switzerland.”

@4, I’ll be similarly interested in whether any of the keen border control advocates here are willing to take up the case of an illegal immigrant travelling on invalid documents, or whether they’d be happy for her to suffer the same fate they’ve decreed for people who do the same in the UK.

(anyway. It’s not a very interesting case, as Turkey is an ECHR signatory so of course she won’t fucking be sent back…)

The case was struck out purely on a technicality: the judge ruled that charities which are not also companies cannot sue for defamation. The ruling had absolutely nothing to do with the extremist literature. See the report on the website of Policy Exchange’s barristers: http://www.onebrickcourt.com/cases.asp?id=151

The Trust has said it is going to appeal:
http://www.nlcentralmosque.com/component/content/article/1-latest/195-policyexchange.html


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  1. Unity

    RT @libcon: :: If you must call your blog 'The Spitoon', don't be surprised if I gob in it – http://bit.ly/4BGm8I

  2. Spinwatch

    RT @libcon: :: Policy Exchange: You win some, you lose some… http://bit.ly/4BGm8I

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Policy Exchange: You win some, you lose some… http://bit.ly/4BGm8I

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