Shawcross Appointment Further Undermines Trust and Confidence in Government27 Jan 2021
The appointment of William Shawcross as the “independent” reviewer of the Government’s controversial Prevent strategy is another kick in the teeth for British Muslim communities, and all of Britain’s electorate who expect fairness and transparency. It regrettably undermines all confidence in this government by Britain’s faith communities.
This decision follows a string of poor-choice public appointments recently: Lord Carlile, the government’s first choice for this role, was forced to step down in December 2019. In another example, Baroness Dido Harding, a close friend of the Prime Minister who is married to a Conservative MP, was appointed interim head of the National Institute for Health Protection and head of the NHS Test and Trace service. Such examples beg the following question: does this government really lack the competence to fairly and openly find fit and proper people to perform vital public work, or is this deliberate ideological cronyism?
Former Chief Crown Prosecutor and internationally respected lawyer, Nazir Afzal believes he was “..strung along to give an impression of open selection”. He is convinced that he was turned down for the role because before his final interview the Home Secretary, Priti Patel had already made her mind up about giving the job to Shawcross – her fellow in the right-wing think tank, Policy Exchange. Shawcross is also the former Director of controversial neoconservative think tank, the Henry Jackson Society – which also has close ties with Patel.
Muslim and rights groups have rightly condemned the appointment given his history of negative remarks about Islam, and his and HJS’ links to extreme and anti-Muslim movements have been documented by award-winning investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed.
Furthermore, the Claystone thinktank has accused The Charity Commission for England and Wales of institutional bias against Muslims under Shawcross’s tenure, while Muslim groups have highlighted other concerning views, which appear to support the use of torture and the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay.
The appointment of Shawcross negatively impacts the level of trust between communities and the Government, particularly given the long history of anti-Muslim views by Shawcross, Patel, the Henry Jackson Society and their supporters, thus undermining any trust and confidence that officials have built with stakeholders over many years.
For some, it is plain to see that this is another example that shows that this Conservative-led government is more interested in promoting their political and ideological allies, than safeguarding national security and promoting a cohesive society.