North London Central Mosque statement on settlement with Policy Exchange

Policy Exchange admits NLCM clear of any wrong-doing

Following NLCM win right to appeal, Policy Exchange’s offer of out of court settlement accepted

On 27 October 2007, the Policy Exchange published a report entitled ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’ in which they named the North London Central Mosque Trust as one of a number of mosques in the UK which they alleged were purveyors of extremist and hate literature.

As is well known, the Trustees and management of the NLCM have worked hard since the take-over in 2005 to cleanse the Mosque from the violence, extremism and intolerance that it was linked with previously during the time it was controlled by people such as Abu Hamza. The ethos of the Mosque is to be embracing of all individuals regardless of their race, religion or gender, to work for social cohesion and to encourage Muslims to play a leading role in British society. The Management take-over was a pivotal event in the community which involved local Muslim community and organizations alongside the Government, the local Authorities, the Police and Members of Parliament. The allegations contained in the Report were therefore not only offensive and defamatory but undermined the huge and important efforts by all who were involved in the take-over.

The Mosque trustees and management have always emphatically denied the claims contained in the Report. Moreover, the Report appeared to be based on highly suspicious methods of research and the evidence on which the Mosque was named was entirely dubious as exposed by the Newsnight excellent investigative report by Richard Watson. The failure of Policy Exchange to sue Newsnight over Watson’s report, despite explicitly threatening to do so in front of millions of viewers, is telling how shaky the grounds Policy Exchange stands on regarding their report, the report they took off their website completely after settling with another mosque similarly accused in the report.

In 2007, a claim by NLCM was issued against the Policy Exchange, and the author of the Report, Denis MacEoin, for defamation. At the first stage in the High Court, the claim was struck out, not on the basis of its merit, which we maintain was strong, but on the technical capacity of unincorporated charities not being able to be claimants in defamation cases in their own right, a loop in the law we believe legislators should look at. In April of this year, the Court of Appeal, after hearing legal argument from the Mosque regarding charities and defamation law, gave us permission to appeal against the decision striking out our claim. The case would potentially have had far-reaching implications for unincorporated charities all across the UK. The appeal was listed for October 2010. We were confident of our chances of success; however, being trustees of a charity, we had to act in the best interests of the Mosque and decided that rather than continuing the risks of litigation, we would accept a request by Policy Exchange to settle out of court after we won the right to appeal.   In the circumstances, the Policy Exchange has now published on their website the following statement:

In our Report ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’, published in October 2007, we stated that the North London Central Mosque was one of the mosques where extremist literature was found.  Policy Exchange has never sought to suggest that the literature cited in the Report was sold or distributed at the Mosque with the knowledge or consent of the Mosque’s trustees or staff.

We are happy to set the record straight.

The Mosque is now cleared of any false accusations of being a purveyor of extremist literature.

We trust that no allegations of this nature will be repeated.

The Board of Trustees