Monthly Archives: September 2015

The International Business Times reports on the announcement by Britain First that their leader, Paul Golding, plans to run in the London mayoral election next year. The announcement includes the controversial remark that the far right group’s opponents should be hung as punishment for being “traitors”.

Deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, made the announcement on Sunday on the group’s Facebook page, along with a comment stating “pro-EU, Islamist-loving opponents” should be hung as punishment for “crimes against our country”

Ms Fransen wrote: “They think they can get away with ruining our country, turning us into a Third World country, giving away our homes, jobs and heritage. But they will face the wrath of the British First movement, make no mistake about it! We will not rest until every traitor is punished for their crimes against our country. And be punished, I mean good old-fashioned British justice at the end of a rope!”

Following the announcement the far right group appealed for donations to fund Mr Golding’s campaign. Britain First have promised to reinforce the “British First brand” and transform the group from a “street army” to an “electoral party”.

Ms Fransen went on to write: “We need every single member, activist, commanding officer and supporter to chip in to our campaign fund. When you contribute with a gift of £20, £50, £100 or even £500 or £1,000, it will help build a lasting legacy, a ray of hope for our beleaguered and long-suffering people in our beloved capital city.”

While the group resolutely told their supporters that they “cannot and will not be beaten”, many people used Twitter to dismiss the announcement of Mr Golding’s candidacy. Some said the only way the group would be able to win the election next year is indeed by hanging their opponents, while others mocked the far right group for even attempting to run for the mayoral seat.

Paul Golding’s mayoral announcement also included a statement suggesting the Church of England was “siding with Islam”, after thirteen members of clergy from the Church of England wrote an open letter to the far right group raising concerns about their plans to protest against the building of a mosque in Burton, Staffordshire. The letter read: What disturbs us is the implication that ‘Britishness’ and Islam should be seen as incompatible. We support, under the law, freedom of worship and religious assembly. We support, under the law, building for that purpose.”

It is not the first time Paul Golding or Britain First have attempted to break into politics by contesting elections. In the 2014 European Parliament elections, Paul Golding stood for a seat in the Wales region, along with three other BF candidates contesting seats for the European Parliament. His deputy, Jayda Fransen, was one of six candidates seeking a seat in the Scotland region. Britain First tried to exploit the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby adding to its ballot sheet the words, ‘Remember Lee Rigby’, an error for which the Electoral Commission was forced to apologise.

Wales Online reports on an ex-soldier who was honoured with a Pride of Britain award for bravery for his role in stopping a race-hate attack in a Tesco store in Mold.

Peter Fuller, 44, received the award for stopping neo-Nazi Zack Davies, 26, from killing an Asian dentist with a machete and hammer in January in a reprisal attack for the murder of Lee Rigby. Speaking of the terrifying assault publicly for the first time Mr Fuller, 44, said: “It’s an image I still have in my head every night, him running towards me with the machete raised and dripping blood. It was like something out of a horror movie.”

Mr Davies, was jailed for life and told he would serve at least 14 years in prison for attempted murder when he was sentenced earlier this month at Mold Crown Court.

Dr Sarandev Bhambra had been walking down an aisle in Tesco on 14 January 2015, when he felt a “huge blow” to the back of his head from a 30cm (12in) machete. During the attack, Davies was heard shouting “white power” and “This is for Lee Rigby”. Dr Bhambra suffered “life altering” injuries, when his skull was slashed to the bone and gashes were carved into his back. Another injury to his left hand caused major nerve, artery and tendon damage, leaving him in need of surgery for five hours.

Mr Fuller, who stepped in to help the victim said: “I heard the attacker say, ‘Remember Lee Rigby’. I saw a man lying in blood on the floor and the guy standing over him, hitting him. Somehow the victim managed to get up and run back down the aisle towards me with the man chasing him. I decided there was no way I was backing away. People were running and screaming. I moved into the middle of the aisle and made myself as big as possible. I was shouting at the guy that what he was doing was madness. I made it clear he was either going to have to go through me or he was going to stop.”

As Mr Davies stood in front of him, with his weapons raised in each hand, Mr Fuller was convinced he was about to be attacked. But he recalled: “He stopped and put the weapons down and I managed to talk him around. I told him what he was doing was daft. He said, ‘We are under attack,’ and I said, ‘This guy hasn’t attacked anyone’.” Mr Fuller then kept talking to Mr Davies for 10 minutes to keep him calm until police arrived.

He received his award yesterday in atelevised ceremony, sponsored by Lidl, at London’s Grosvenor House.

After the trial concluded, Dr Bhambra’s brother, Dr Tarlochan Singh Bhambra, said his family had “no doubt” that, had the “racial disposition” of the case been reversed, it would have been reported as an “act of terror”. The case highlights the problem of individuals, particularly Sikhs, being “perceived” as Muslims and targeted in anti-Muslim hate crimes after terrorist incidents. Sikh communities have noted the escalation of attacks against members who have been falsely identified as Muslims by assailants mistaking turbans, and in this case it would seem “Asian” appearance, as symbols of Muslim identity.

The Birmingham Mail reports on the 80% drop in the number of stop and search procedures carried out by West Midlands Police since 2011. However, the figures show that Blacks and Asians are still more likely to be searched than their White counterparts.

West Midlands Police have said the “spectacular” reduction in the use of controversial stop and search powers was a result of better training for its officers and a new recording system. 14,000 stops were made in 2014-2015, down from 64,000 in 2011-12. The number of ethnic minority individuals stopped has also fallen. Figures also show that the total number of individuals arrested and cautioned after a stop increased from 4% to 26%.

Despite the improvement in total stops conducted, young Asian men are still 1.5 times more likely to be stopped than white men, while young Black men are 2.8 times more likely to be stopped.

West Midlands Police was one of the first forces to fully sign up to a new initiative to improve the stop-to-arrest ratio by recording all outcomes of stop and searches, measuring how many led to an arrest and introducing a community complaints trigger. It also initiated an electronic recording system via police radios, new training for officers and began mapping the areas where stops took place, which are then published on the PoliceUK website.

New scrutiny panels have also given local communities a voice across all 10 local policing units in the region. The panels bring in members of the public to challenge how stop and search powers are being used in their local areas.

Sulemaain Samuel, a member of the Birmingham West and Central stop and search scrutiny panel, said: “I have seen some really big improvements in the way stop and search has been conducted since I first got involved three years ago. The stops used to be recorded on small sheets of paper, which was simply not good enough. The recording of the stops over the radio system has improved accuracy and has ensured that proper procedures are followed. We are also going to be going into secondary and primary schools to try and raise awareness about what we are doing. Many young people I speak to think policing is done to them, rather than with them. Getting them involved in schemes like this means they will have a voice.”

Chief Superintendent Chris Todd from the West Midlands Police said: “We are proud of the significant improvements we have made to the way in which we use stop and search. We are committed to ensuring that all stop and searches are conducted appropriately, ethically, impartially and objectively and that those who are stopped and searched are treated with courtesy, consideration and respect. We must continue to work hard to keep the public’s trust on this sensitive issue.”

Stop and search procedures have been a contentious issue over the last few years, with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) stating in a report reviewing stop and search in 2013 that 27% of the time the use of the power was “unlawful”. HMIC also found that too often the powers were ineffective in tackling crime, with some campaigners calling for police officers to be prosecuted for abusing the powers. The review found that less than 10% of searches resulted in an arrest and black and ethnic minority people were 7 timesmore likely to be searched than white people, with figures rising to 29 times more likely in some regions.

Following the publication of a second report by the HMIC in March 2015, investigating the progress police forces had made since the 2013 report, Home Secretary Theresa May urged police forces to improve the stop-to-arrest ratio and address its disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities or face the threat of mandatory legislation.

In a bid to tackle discriminatory use and to provide the public with more information about the effectiveness of stop and search procedures, an initiative was launched in January 2015 making it mandatory for a total of 40 police forces, in England and Wales, including British Transport Police, to publish comprehensive data on their use of stop and search powers online. A greater number of police forces joined the initiative by August 2015 recording data on the ethnicity, gender and age of those stopped, as well as the time of day at which the stops were made.

In a follow up report by the HMIC in August 2015, a number of improvements were noted in 9 police forces, such as training given to officers, more accurate recording procedures, better methods to collect stop and search data and the inception of community stop and search monitoring groups. However, a further improvements were needed, as not all forces reviewed by HMIC had made the requisite level of progress that was required as outlined in the initial March 2015 HMIC report.

The Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto pledged to “legislate to mandate changes in police practices if stop and search does not become more targeted and stop to arrest ratios do not improve.

The Guardian reports on the criticism levelled at Fox News by Ofcom after the channel featured an interview with ‘terrorism expert’ Steve Emerson in which he referred to Birmingham as a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims.

The broadcast regulator, in its latest bulletin, outlines the findings from its assessment of four complaints received about the Fox News programme “Justice with Judge Jeanine”, broadcast on 11 January 2015, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

The bulletin notes that Ofcom assessed output from the programme which contained the following:

  • an opening statement by Judge Jeanine in which she gave her perspective on Islamic extremism;
  • an interview with Fox News reporter Amy Kellogg on the latest events in Paris following the Hebdo Attack and the subsequent incidents;
  • an interview with Nolan Peterson a former US air force officer and described as “an expert on the radicalisation of the French Muslims”;
  • an interview with Steve Emerson, founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism;
  • an interview with Harris Zafar described as the “author of Demystifying Islam” and Zuhdi Jasser from the American Islamic Forum for Democracy which discussed the relationship between terrorism and Islam, and “jihad”;
  • an interview with Sergeant Ed Mullins of NYPD which included a discussion of the recent fatal attacks of two police officers, the threat of terrorism on New York City and issues for police following the Hebdo Attack and subsequent incidents;
  • an interview with Judge Michael Mukasey which included a discussion of “fatwas” in light of the Hebdo Attack and his involvement in one of the first US terrorist trials; and
  • an interview with Bill Donohue, Catholic League President, which included discussion of the depiction of religious figures in the media, including in Charlie Hebdo.

Ofcom ruled that comments made on the programme by Peterson and Emerson about “no go zones” in Paris and Birmingham were in breach of clause 2.2 of the broadcasting cost which states “Factual programmes or items or portrayal of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience”.

Emerson said on the programme: “So in Britain there are not just ‘no-go zones’ there are actually cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. In parts of London there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim religious attire.”

Earlier in the show, the programme’s host, Jeanine Pirro asked another guest, Nolan Peterson: “There are areas called ‘no-go zones’ where apparently the French police will not go (and) Sharia laws (are) imposed. These are dangerous areas in the ghetto. What can you tell us about those?”

Peterson replied: “There are basically portions of the banlieues, which are the French ghettos that the French authorities have abandoned. They don’t provide an ambulance service, they don’t provide police service.”

Seven days after the broadcast Fox News apologised on two occasions, admitting to a “serious factual error” that it had “wrongly let stand unchallenged and uncorrected”. It told Ofcom that there was “always a risk involved when inviting guests to a live programme”.

The broadcaster further sought to defend itself against claims of a breach of the Code stating, “guest overstatements, generalisations and regrettably, misstatements can occur” on live broadcasts and that “to be misleading requires intent to mislead”. Fox News also cited Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on freedom of speech, in defence of the comments made during the live broadcast.

It is interesting that Fox News raised the question of intent in relation to broadcasting misleading statements given Emerson’s role in the “misinformation network” that perpetuates scaremongering about Islam and Muslims to news audiences.

Ofcom said that the regulator is mandated to have “due regard to the need to secure the application of standards that provide adequate protection to members of the public from the inclusion of offensive and harmful material in programmes in television services in the manner which best guarantees “an appropriate level of freedom of expression”.

The regulator, ruling that Fox News breached Clause 2.2 of the Code, stated:

“Critically, our concerns stemmed from the fact that the statements were made in a current affairs programme which dealt with a controversial subject matter at an extremely sensitive time following the Hebdo Attack and subsequent incidents. For these reasons, we did not consider that the apologies and corrections sufficiently mitigated the materially misleading statements and the potential harm and offence caused to viewers of the Programme.”

You can read the full investigation by Ofcom in its bulletin here.

The Guardian and Independent disclose details of a Muslim university student who was accused of being a “potential terrorist” after he was spotted by a university official reading a textbook for his masters’ degree in terrorism, crime and global security at Staffordshire University.

The student, Mohammed Umar Farooq, was studying in the library when he says he was approached by someone who he thought was another student. Farooq said that he was seen reading the book “Terrorism Studies” and was subsequently probed about his “attitudes to homosexuality, Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida.”

Farooq was referred by the official to security guards at the university after the official decided “too many red flags” were raised in the conversation.

Staffordshire University have since apologised to Farooq after the incident occurred in March of this year saying the higher education institution was struggling with the requirements of a “very broad duty … to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

The statutory duty which was proposed in the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill and which covers all levels of the education system, from nurseries to higher education institutions, has generated considerable opposition among the teaching profession, students’ unions and Muslim communities who have argued the proposals will result in interference with academic freedom, turn teaching staff into an arm of the security services and foster discriminatory practices towards Muslim students.

During the passage of the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, many of these arguments were advanced to no avail with the Government determined to impose a duty which in the short time it has been in operation, has seen several cases of discrimination and intimidation of Muslim pupils.

Cases involving a student who was referred to a child protection officer for using the term ‘eco-terrorism’ in the classroom, a student who was visited by a Prevent officer because he advocated support for Palestinian human rights, and numerous others presented in a submission by the Muslim Council of Britain to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, have all recently come to light.

In light of these, fears of the statutory duty resulting in a ‘cradle to grave’ surveillance state of British Muslims look to be less about alarmism and more about human rights violations of Muslims.

The Guardian reports that Farooq was “so unsettled by the incident that he chose not to return to the course – but that he felt he had to make a statement about what had happened.”

The human rights organisation, CAGE, which Cameron singled out for stern criticism in his ‘Munich 2’ speech, though the organisation is known for its robust challenge of human rights violations arising from counter-terrorism legislation, said Farooq’s experience is one of “hundreds of cases” which have been reported to it since October 2014.

CAGE said, “What this case displays is something we have seen frequently: most notably the over-reporting of normative behaviour, and a fear-based approach that alienates and antagonises communities.”

Speaking about his decision to share the experience and draw wider attention to the pernicious effect of the statutory duty, Farooq told The Guardian, “The implications if I did not challenge this could be serious for me. I could go on a police list, I could be investigated without my knowledge. This could happen to any young Muslim lad. I had to fight back.”

The Guardian editorial today revisits the news story highlighting the fundamental human rights questions raised by the Government’s approach to counter-extremism. The editorial notes:

“[Government policy] can and should prevent the whims of suspicious minds from aggregating into systematic differences in treatment.

“The need is for a different language that talks to diverse society – a language that can condemn the vicious nihilism of Isis without lapsing into the sort of nationalism that could sound like chauvinism in disaffected Muslim communities; a language that allows the state to balance the objective of a happily integrated society with its duty to defend itself. That language exists: it is the language of international human rights. It is high time the government began speaking it, instead of seeking to undermine it.”

With the Extremism Bill mooted for publication this autumn, redressing the imbalance in human rights, non-discrimination and equality prompted by practices adopted since the passing of Counter Terrorism and Security Act is urgent if we are to avoid further misguided and punitive legislation.

The Guardian front page today reports on legal action taken by parents of a pupil at a North London school after he was referred to a child protection officer for using the term “eco-terrorism” in a classroom discussion about environmental activists.

The boy, who has not been named, is a pupil at Central Foundation school. In May of this year, he was engaged in a classroom discussion about the environment and spoke up to say that individuals who take extreme measures to protect the environment are sometimes called “eco-warriors” and the activity labelled “eco-terrorism”.

The 14 year old states that a week later he was subjected to a ‘referral’ in which a child protection officer asked him if he was “affiliated” to IS. The boy’s parents who have launched legal action against the school said the experience left him feeling “scared and nervous” and that the school had acted in a discriminatory manner by singling him out because of his Muslim background.

The pupil was taken out of class a week after the discussion in which he uttered the term “eco-terrorism”, and taken to an “inclusion centre” where one adult sat behind him and a child protection officer sat in front of him asking questions about IS and terrorism. The boy’s mother criticised the school’s behaviour saying “There was nothing in what he said that warranted him being taken out of class and treated as a criminal.”

Central Foundation school has responded to the parent’s legal action stating:

“It is unarguable that at the relevant time (May 2015) the school was required as part of its safeguarding responsibilities to be aware of the dangers of radicalisation.

“The approach of alerting the designated child protection officer by email regarding inappropriate references to terrorism and for [her] to have short 10-minute conversation with the claimant was a reasonable and proportionate response.”

The incident provides an important insight into how schools and teachers are responding to the government’s Prevent duty, amid growing criticisms that teachers are being forced to play a role in the “surveillance state”.

Last week David Anderson, the government-appointed independent reviewer of terrorism, said Prevent was causing widespread anger among Muslim communities. In his annual review of terrorism legislation, he stated: “While good work is undoubtedly done under Prevent, it is also the focus of considerably more resentment among Muslims…”.

The Prevent duty has also been criticised with evidence of Muslims being targeted for espousing political views and questionnaires being distributed which “profile” Muslim pupils with questions probing their religious beliefs.

Only recently, a Muslim pupil found himself questioned by a Prevent officer and was “referred” under the Channel programme, designed to intervene in cases of young people deemed vulnerable to radicalisation, because he spoke up against Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Such incidents have given rise to the claim that the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy is stifling freedom of expression and curtailing civil liberties.

The strategy has also been criticised by a number of academics and teachers, some of whom have stated that teachers were being used as “front-line storm troopers” to spy on pupils as a result of poor government guidelines about combating radicalisation. Many have also strongly criticised it for its foreclosing on free debate, academic freedom and forcing teaching staff to become “spies”. Early evidence from schools and teachers suggests the new duty is having the opposite effect to schools being “safe spaces” to discuss such issues.

Professor Louise Richardson, chancellor of Oxford University and terrorism and counter-terrorism expert, has argued that if the government wants to combat radicalisation then this must be initiated within a conducive environment rather than through scaremongering. She said it was “imperative that we have a place where radical ideas can be expressed and challenged”.

A similar point was also brought up by the boy’s mother who said that Prevent was counter-productive to its purpose stating: “If the three girls from Bethnal Green who went to Syria, if they had said in class: ‘My dream is to marry a jihadi’, their peer group would probably have slapped them down”.

The Morning Star reports that Manchester City Council have been urged to discipline a councillor after he was found guilty of breaching the council’s code of conduct amid allegations of racism and Islamophobia.

An official investigation led by Manchester City Council into Labour Councillor Mark Hackett’s conduct  found that he had abused and intimidated a Muslim man who had volunteered to help organise a Manchester Stop the War Coalition (StWC) event to remember the children of Gaza.

The victim, who does not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, emailed a number of councillors at the city council to seek their support for the event that was to be held on 17 August 2014.

Mr Hackett responded by emailing the victim, copying in all other Labour councillors and levelling accusations that StWC supported Hamas and Isis. Hackett further remarked that his attending the event could put him and his family at risk of attack.

In a second malicious email to the victim, Hackett accused him of playing a “possible role in the abduction of the Salford Taxi Driver in Syria” and also a “possible role as Islamic State sleeper in Salford”.

In a third email to his victim, Mr Hackett wrote: “You may think I am being over cautious and alarmist but look at the Salford Taxi Driver betrayed to IS and abducted by them by someone (sic) in Salford presumably.”

Hackett was also found to have intimidated the victim by reporting him to the police as an Isis “sleeper cell”.

The male victim, in his 40’s, submitted a formal complaint to the council asking for an official probe into Mr Hackett’s conduct. The investigation lasted almost a year and concluded in July 2015 where Mr Hackett was found to have violated the council’s code of conduct with his bullying and abusive behaviour.

A Manchester City Council spokesman said the complaint was being investigated and it would be “inappropriate to comment until this process has concluded.” However, the council has not initiated any disciplinary proceedings against the councillor. The victim has suggested that as Mr Hackett is due to step down from his position early next year, the council want to “quietly sweep the matter under the carpet”.

Mr Hackett is a prominent figure in local Manchester politics having served as a Labour councillor for over 25 years and in 2013 was elected to serve as the city’s Lord Mayor.

The victim is being supported by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), who disclose that the victim has been left “psychologically scarred” by his experience. He is now seeking a public apology from Mr Hackett. He also wants him to publicly retract the allegations he says were made against him and face disciplinary proceedings from the council.

The Express and Star reports that the cost of two right-wing protests by the English Defence League (EDL) and All Football Fans/Firms Against Islamisation (AFFFAI) cost West Midlands Police more than £100,000 in just two months.

The paper reports that 700 staff from West Midlands Police were placed on duty to manage the EDL march in Walsall last month costing the force just over £42,000. Two months earlier, in June, West Midlands Police were forced to manage a similar march by members of AFFFAI in Dudley which cost the force £60,000.

Approximately 200 EDL supporters gathered in Walsall last month to “expose problems brought about by Islamification”. However, the Express and Star reports that some participants were snorting cocaine, while one protestor told them of a plan to cause trouble at a mosque. The Express and Star published a splendid feature on the EDL last month revealing the findings from an undercover investigation by the newspaper’s reporters.

A Freedom of Information request by the newspaper revealed that a total of 677 police officers and staff were drafted to police the Walsall protest, including 450 officers on the ground. Although the figures are still being finalised, the protest is estimated to have cost the police force £10,000 for each hour protesters were gathered in the town.

West Midlands Police spokeswoman Susan Brown said the figure related to overtime incurred by police staff and officers, briefing, feeding, printing, vehicle hire and any other miscellaneous costs. She added: “The costs do not include the cost of duty time staff posted to this event from other duties within the West Midlands.”

In Dudley, approximately 200 protesters from AFFFAI marched through the town centre on June 13, to protest against a new mosque in Dudley, the third demonstration of its kind against the mosque. With the number of far-right protests to have taken place in the town, the total cost to manage such demonstrations in Dudley has amounted to £414,700.

Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for adults, said: “The police have to take precautions to protest members of the public from any harm. We could do without spending on this when the police budget has been cut. It’s a shame the public have to end up paying for these protests which don’t do any good for community relations.”

The growing cost and impact of managing repeat protests by the far-right on the town of Dudley was addressed in a public meeting in June. Chief Inspector Phil Dolby told the meeting he was preparing a report for the Home Secretary in the hope the strain on local police, businesses and Dudley residents might see the Home Secretary take stern action against further protests planned by far right groups.

Calls for protests by the far right to be better regulated have been voiced more frequently recently, with some police chiefs calling for a change in the law to stop them from taking place. With the growing cost of managing far right protests, South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, David Crompton, announced that he was looking to call time on far-right protests in the region. His concerns were supported by Rotherham City Council, after it was revealed that the cost of policing protests during the last three years had reached £4 million.

The impact of far-right protests has been a considerable problem at a time of budget cuts to police forces across the UK. It has been argued that funds and resources that should be used for protecting victims of crime are unnecessarily diverted by constant demands to police protests, with a single protest in Tower Hamlets, East London having cost £2 million.

The costs of far right protests has been voiced by politicians as well as police chiefs, with Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde,  raising the issue in parliament 2 years ago. The Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, Olly Martins, wrote to the Home Secretary recently stating the cost of policing far right protests was “untenable” and that the Government should give attention to the “proper balance” between the right of far right groups to organise protests and the protection of local communities.

The Guardian reports on an correction published by the Mail on Sunday over an article accusing a “Muslim gang” of perpetrating an attack on an immigration enforcement van in East London.

The newspaper article, which was published in July, was brought to the attention of press regulation body Ipso by MEND and other Muslim organisations. The Mail on Sunday headlined the article “Welcome to east London: Muslim gang slashes tyres of immigration-raid van before officers showered with eggs from high rise” though there was no evidence to substantiate the claim a “Muslim gang” was responsible for the attack, as we pointed out to the regular citing a clause 1 breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

According to the original misleading article, which has since been corrected, “Muslim youths” carried out an attack on vans used for an immigration raid in Shadwell in the same week that David Cameron had called on the Muslim community to support the “British way of life”, suggesting that the refusal of local residents to come to the assistance of the immigration officers was in some way linked to the Prime Minister’s “appeal for support from the Muslim community in the effort to combat extremism”.

Furthermore, the premise for the article appeared to be based on two casual observations; the opinion of an unnamed witness who said he thought the perpetrators were “local Muslim hoodies” and data from the 2011 census which, according to the Mail on Sunday, pointed to “more than half the population of Shadwell being Muslim”. The article also referenced tweets posted by individuals with Muslim sounding names that mocked the incident as “evidence” that “Muslims” were behind the attack.

Following complaints to the regulator, the Mail on Sunday agreed to correct the story and remove references to Muslims. The correction stated: “An article on July 26 said a gang of Muslim youths was responsible for damaging Home Office immigration enforcement vehicles in Shadwell, east London, in the week the prime minister appealed to Muslims to help combat extremism. Muslim readers have asked to point out that the youths’ religion was unclear and, in any case, irrelevant to the story. We apologise for any offence caused.”

The apology by the Mail on Sunday follows an apology published last month by the Sunday Times to Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad after they falsely reported that he praised Osama bin Laden in an article he wrote in May 2011 entitled “Advice for Muslims on the Death of Osama bin Laden” and that he had justified the killing of innocent civilians by terrorists as “collateral damage”.

As the new regulator, IMPRESS, revives the prospect of robust press regulation, as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson, one can only hope the press will be more careful about publishing unsubstantiated claims which fuels the drip-feed of negative media output on Islam and Muslims.

The Independent reports on reactions by London universities to their “naming and shaming” in yesterday’s announcement by the Home Office about “hate preachers” on campus and the new guidelines on external speakers which come into effect next Monday as part of newly enacted counter terrorism legislation.

SOAS has responded to its listing among universities which have hosted “most events” featuring individuals the Government claims “promoted rhetoric that aimed to undermine core British values”.

SOAS have pointed out that only one of the six speakers mentioned by the Prime Minister yesterday has actually spoken on its campus.

According to the Independent, Laura Gibbs, SOAS registrar, said: “We were disappointed to see that the announcement… by the Prime Minister’s Office includes some inaccuracies. We have not hosted any extremist speakers in the last year, or indeed the recent past…. We take our duty of care to our community and our legal obligations very seriously.”

SOAS stated that Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad visited the university in February 2014, to speak to the Islamic Finance Society, on why the charging of interest is prohibited by Islam. Given the Government’s fulsome backing to the launch of the UK’s first ever sukuk bond, its championing of shari’ah compliant mortgages and its efforts to introduce shari’ah compliant student loans, it can perhaps he safely assumed that Shaykh Haitham’s talk to SOAS Islamic Finance Society was not in breach of ‘British values’.

Professor Simon Gaskell, principal of Queen Mary College, another university singled out by the PM, is quoted in the Independent too.

He told the paper: “We find it difficult to respond to these assertions when the extremism analysis unit has not requested any information”, adding that the university would “welcome sight of their definitions for ‘hate or extremist speakers’.””

Indeed, the work of the Extremism Analysis Unit is so shrouded in secrecy, that its work, staff and methods are not open to any sort of public scrutiny if this Freedom of Information response is anything to go by.

Given the public “naming and shaming” of universities by the PM and the Home Office, would it be too much to ask that universities and the public at large be given sight of what definitions and evidence the Government is acting on?