MEND Statement: Appointment of William Shawcross to lead the Independent Review of PREVENT
Wednesday January 27 2021
Today, the Government announced that William Shawcross is to be the new Independent Reviewer of PREVENT. This comes as a devastating announcement to all those whom had hoped for a truly independent and transparent review into a fundamentally flawed strategy that continues to detrimentally impact Muslim communities.
Muslim communities can have no confidence in the legitimacy of any review directed by Shawcross in light of his long history of Islamophobic credentials, particularly surrounding his tenure as former director and trustee of the neoconservative and Islamophobic think-tank, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS). In 2012, whilst director of HJS, Shawcross asserted: “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”. Meanwhile, when leading the Charity Commission it lost a number of legal battles after Shawcross was accused of presiding over a campaign of anti-Muslim attacks on Muslim charities and grassroots organisations.
Consequently, considering the criticisms of the structurally Islamophobic nature of PREVENT, MEND and other organisations working in the field have no confidence in an individual such as Shawcross leading any kind of robust investigation capable of meaningful conclusions and recommendations.
MEND originally supported the principle of an Independent Review of PREVENT as we believed it was an avenue for genuine democratic change. However, these hopes were first questioned with the appointment of Lord Carlile, who was removed after a judicial review was launched by Rights Watch UK. The second appointment of someone who is also wholly and unquestionably unsuitable to lead such an important review forces us to further question whether the Government is serious about having an independent review and whether we can engage with this process.
As such, MEND cannot in good conscience engage with the review as long as William Shawcross remains independent reviewer as there can be no legitimate review as long as he remains in place. We will thus not engage with the review until Shawcross is removed and commitments are made to restore our confidence.