Claim: Quilliam Speakers Dropped Out Due English Defence League Threats

From Hugh Muir in the Guardian:

…while the [English Defence League] says it eschews violence, there are claims that some of its people may have been taking a less than constructive approach to two former members who were poised to lift the lid on the group in association with the counter-extremism thinktank, Quilliam. Harry Burns and Leighton Evans were billed as “former senior members of the EDL who have renounced the group and are willing to speak out against it publicly … to answer questions about the organisation and their time inside it”. But they didn’t. Both pulled out, apparently citing threats. Not from us, insists the man from the EDL. In good faith we accept that. A simple solution. If in doubt, blame the Muslims.

I’d like to know where these “claims” have come from. The actual reason Evans dropped out, according to Facebook postings he authored, was because he never had any intention of renouncing the EDL. He complained bitterly that Quilliam had misled him, and he directed a stream of foul-mouthed abuse at the organisation and at Ghaffar Hussain, Quilliam’s Director of Training and Consultancy (“The quilliam fuckers had us right over… I replied putting him right about me but the cunt still printed a load of bollocks”).

Burns made no mention of threats either – in a long statement he simply complained that “It wouldn’t matter what I’d said people would have bullshitted about it.” He then went on to make a number of bizarre Facebook postings attacking Muslims and Jews, which he then revealed he had posted in order to trap an anti-EDL Facebook site called Expose into quoting him saying things they must know he didn’t mean.

The evidence strongly suggests that the Quilliam event failed because Quilliam decided to give a platform to speakers who were unsuitable. How Quilliam came into contact with the two men is unknown, but both are close to Charlie Flowers, the keyboard vigilante and all-round thug who spends his nights spamming Twitter users with abusive messages about me. Flowers boasts about his association with Quilliam and similar groups, which he then uses to suggest that anyone who has problem with his conduct must be an Islamist or a far-left extremist (this is, of course, typical vigilante behaviour). The groups that Flowers has insinuated himself into don’t care that Flowers makes public threats of violence: he’s promised that I’ll get a “slap upside the cheek”, while someone else will be stabbed “in the face”.

I’m broadly supportive of what groups like Quilliam are trying to do, and it should be clear from this blog that I have no time for the EDL. However, making up a threat from the EDL to explain away a mistake simply will not do. That may not be what has happened here, but Quilliam really ought to clarify why the event was cancelled.

UPDATE: On Facebook, Leighton Evans has confirmed that the report is untrue:

I wonder who told him that me and arry pulled out of the quilliam foundation round table bunch of lies because we both cited threats to us? over to you Mr Hussain…well i wish at least mr muir would have had the decency to ask me first because i havent been threatened by anyone. but the leftist media have never let the truth get in the way have they. could i sue do you think?

Evans’ attitude is a problem for Flowers, who has attempted to mollify him by claiming that Muir must have received inaccurate information from me, rather than from Hussain. The suggestion is bizarre, and an insult to Evans’ intelligence – the above obviously shows I have attempted to correct Muir’s account myself, and my previous blog post on the subject has nothing about threats.

If Hussain is concerned about his credibility, the last thing he needs is an on-line thug spreading lies to protect him.

4 Responses

  1. Quilliam seem a little too keen to kiss the Neocon behind and adopt the stance of pointing the finger at the majority of Muslims in order to explain the views and actions of its lunatic fringe. As a consequence, they are viewed with contempt by all the Muslims I know.

  2. […] afterwards, Hugh Muir reported in the Guardian that the event had been cancelled because of threats from the English Defence League. I was […]

  3. […] was a strange development a few days later when an article by Hugh Muir appeared in the Guardian claiming that the event had been cancelled due to threats against the speakers from the EDL. This was […]

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