“I wish to appeal against the decision by the FCO’s disciplinary panel to uphold the allegation of gross misconduct made against me.
It is clear that the panel had no intention of asking me to explain why I took the actions that I did. It was content solely to establish that I had acted in contravention of civil service regulations, thereby completely disregarding context.
Given that the disclosed documents, showing the extent of the FCO’s engagement with radical or political Islam, gave rise to concern, not only among the public, but also within Government circles, the panel had a duty to take this into account. I suggest that the FCO remains unsighted with regard to the dangerous nature of the policy it was promoting in the aftermath to the London bombings during the latter half of 2005.
A dangerous policy for a number of reasons, of which I will describe three.
First, it made a bad situation worse. By handing over policy initiatives to those closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood/Jamaat-e-Islami, the FCO appeared unable or unwilling to acknowledge these organisations’ role in fomenting radicalisation among British Muslims over a period of time extending to decades. At the same time the FCO was content to act as a mouthpiece for their self-asserted claims of moderation, and furthermore, appeared to accept their analysis that the UK’s foreign policy was a main driver for radicalisation.
Second, the FCO’s belief that its expertise in international relations could be applied to the UK’s domestic political scene. This was a mistake as it had insufficient local knowledge to reach considered judgments, thereby allowing politicians and community leaders to subvert the FCO’s agenda for their own ends. It would appear that between them the Government and the FCO intended to purchase increased influence in the Islamic world by making concessions to Muslim voting-blocs in the UK, at the expense of longer-term processes of integration. At the same time, Islamic organisations, primarily the Muslim Council of Britain, took this as an opportunity to strengthen their brand of Islam, both in the UK and the wider Islamic world.
Third, it was clear that the FCO tended to favour Islam over other religions and belief systems. As this took place in the public sphere, it has to be regarded as highly dangerous as well as being inattentive to common sense.
I suggest that the FCO took inordinate measures to maintain good relations with the Muslim Brotherhood: it is the possible progeny or collusive deals resulting from this union which give rise to grave concern.
I further suggest that the FCO’s worldwide network of dedicated and loyal staff is being undermined by poor leadership at the centre. To sum up, I think the FCO is selling its country short.
I would expect the above to be taken into account when reviewing the decision to substantiate the allegation of gross misconduct.”
Government’s response to Martin Bright’s revelations and leaked documents
1 July 2006: Publication of Martin Bright’s Policy Exchange pamphlet: When Progressives Treat with Reactionnaries. This pamphlet recycled many of the leaked documents.
14(?) July 2006: Martin Bright Dispatches programme for Channel 4 covering the same ground as the Policy Exchange pamphlet.
11 October 2006: Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, gives a speech entitled “Britain: Our Values, Our Responsibilities.”
12 October 2006: Daily Telegraph article, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1531226/Back-British-values-or-lose-grants-Kelly-tells-Muslim-groups.html
“Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, said it was time for a “fundamental rebalancing” of relations with Muslim organisations if a new generation of terrorists was not to grow up in this country.”
15 October 2006: MCB’s response to Kelly. http://www.mcb.org.uk/features/features.php?ann_id=1537
23 October 2006: Martin Bright article in the New Statesman: “One Minister who understands the problem.”
18 March 2007: Ruth Kelly article at the Guardian’s comment is free blog: “We have been wrong on how to tackle home-grown terrorism.”
“Second, the government in the past has sometimes fallen into the trap of setting too much store by the voice of a small number of organisations.”
9 April 2007: Martin Bright, New Statesman: “Radical Islam: ministers get the message.”
“This policy had also been allowed to seep into domestic policy, over which the Foreign Office had, until recently, an extraordinary degree of influence. Using a series of articles in this magazine and a documentary on Channel 4, I argued for a change in policy to broaden the scope of the dialogue. The influence of Ruth Kelly has been hugely significant in this respect.”
11 October 2007: New Statesman leader. “An abuse of power and the hounding of an official.”
“In an on-the-record interview in this magazine, the present Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, made it clear that policy had changed. Ruth Kelly, who as communities secretary began the process of opening up dialogue, was informed in her decision by reading Bright’s Policy Exchange paper. Her successor, Hazel Blears, has also embraced the new approach. Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the Tories’ security spokeswoman, also quoted in detail from Bright’s work in helping to formulate her party’s policy.”
11 January 2008: John Kampfner, Daily Telegraph: “CPS should investigate FCO”
“Once Mr Pasquill had been arrested, officials and ministers were happy to make it clear to me and my colleague, Martin Bright, who wrote the original story, that they had already changed policy in both areas.”
7 February 2008: Daily Telegraph: “Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi refused visa”
“The Home Office said the cleric had been refused entry because of fears his views “could foster inter-community violence.”
8 February 2008: MCB press release: “MCB deplores Government decision to bar Sheikh Qaradawi.”
13 March 2009: Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, letter to Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General, MCB: “Global Anti-Agression Campaign”
Letter obtained by Guardian and published on their website. Concerns dispute over the appearance of Dr Daud Abdullah’s signature on the Istanbul Declaration, and Blears’ request that he resign from his position as Deputy Secretary-General of the MCB.
11 August 2009: MCB press release: “MCB Welcomes the Refocusing of our Collective Responsibility in the Pursuit to Prevent Terrorism.”
This in response to recent announcements by John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Cohesion Minister, Shahid Malik. However, despite the MCB’s apparent optimism, it is too early to say whether or not the Government will bring the MCB back into the fold.
5 November 2009: Article in the Jewish Chronicle by Martin Bright: Hardcore Islamist gets top anti-terror post at Home Office
Asim Hafeez appointed head of intervention at the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism.