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Shawcross appointment ‘toxic’ for Prevent review

26th Feb 2021

Hamed Chapman

The controversial appointment of William Shawcross to replace Lord Carlile to head a review of the Government’s Prevent Extremism programme has come under stringent criticism. The appointment will poison any prospects to reform the country’s contentious counter-terrorism strategy, say critics.

The review was forced upon the Government by an amendment to the new Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill before it became law in February 2019, but has been beset with delays, including the removal of the former viewer of terrorism legislation in a legal challenge against his appointment over a year ago.

Former Tory Party Chair, Baroness Warsi, said the replacement by the former Chair of the Charity Commission was “inappropriate” and would “further toxify a policy which is at best a broken brand, at worst has a dubious record of implementation.”

It was “another example of the Govt’s dangerously ideological, divisive & flawed understanding of the issues around countering extremism,” Warsi tweeted in one of many instant criticisms often in reference to previous remarks made by Shawcross against Islam. The Muslim Council of Britain described the latest appointment as a “Trumpian” move, saying the Government was once again “making it clear it has no interest in truly reviewing the policy.”

“William Shawcross is singularly unfit to be a neutral and fair assessor of this Government policy, which has been criticised for unfairly targeting British Muslims, given his frightening views about Islam and Muslims,” a spokesman said. “It is ironic that a policy supposedly charged with preventing extremism is to be scrutinised by a person who holds hostile views on Islam and Muslims, who has links to people with extreme views on us, and who defends the worst excesses of the so-called ‘war on terror’.”

Other criticisms pointed to his tenure at the Charity Commission when it was accused of institutional bias against Muslims, while others highlighted concerning comments he made in his book Justice and the Enemy, which appear to support use of torture and the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay.

As Director of the neoconservative thinktank the Henry Jackson Society, he was also quoted as saying in 2012 that “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.” The way he was appointed created further controversy, with the Daily Telegraph reporting that Shawcross was the favoured candidate even before candidates were interviewed.
The Home Office did not respond to our request for comment, neither did they provide us response from Shawcross.

 

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