Abortive Quilliam Foundation Speaker Denies EDL Made Threats, Accuses Quilliam of Lying

As I blogged last month, the Quilliam Foundation recently announced a meeting at which two “former senior members of the EDL who have renounced the group” would “speak out against it publicly” and “answer questions about the organisation and their time inside it.” The event did not in fact take place, and one of the speakers, Leighton Evans, complained bitterly that his views about the EDL had been misrepresented by Quilliam.

Shortly afterwards, Hugh Muir reported in the Guardian that the event had been cancelled because of threats from the English Defence League. I was sceptical, and Evans has now publicly confirmed on Facebook that this report is untrue:

read the bit about me and harry both pulling out of the quilliam foundation thing both citing threats? no one threatened me and ive got the email telling ghuffar hussain exactly why i pulled out. if anyone wants the truth get in touch.

It seems to me that there are two possibilities here: either Hugh Muir made it up, which is unlikely, or incorrect information was given to the Guardian by someone at Quilliam. If the latter case, it may have been an simple error, but we sadly also have to suspect that Quilliam may have concocted a lie to spin away what looks like a fiasco. Either way, a shadow has been cast over Quilliam’s integrity.

It is likely that that Evans was only asked to speak following a recommendation from the thuggish Charlie Flowers, who boasts about of his close links to Quilliam and who knows Evans. Flowers – who spends nights spamming Twitter with abusive messages about me – has his own theory about the Guardian report:

… Guys, we all know where these reporters go to online to get inaccurate info about us- a certain blog that mocks religion? Maybe we should set Hugh Muir straight.

Yes, when things go wrong for Flowers it must be my fault – although my blog doesn’t “mock religion”, it’s something he has found it convenient to accuse me of, and it’s obviously me that he’s referring to here.

Flowers must think that Evans is a complete idiot – my first blog post on the subject has nothing about threats from the EDL or anyone else, while my second post was actually a corrective to Muir’s piece (at this point I contacted Muir, but received no response). If Evans bothers to read these entries for himself, he’ll see that Flowers is attempting to manipulate him.

UPDATE: Flowers now writes that:

OK, so we’ve all contacted “Hugh Muir” regarding his inaccuracies in that diary piece, which was based on total fabrication via an anti-religious blog site… and he has refused to respond. Why is that? Is he frightened? Does he realise people now rigorously check links?

Or is it that an aggressive email from Flowers ranting about “a total fabrication via an anti-religious blog site” simply baffled him, given that if Muir got information from anyone it must have been from Quilliam?

Flowers goes on to boast of his links to the Guardian: that would be reference to a profile of his “Cheerleaders” group by Haroon Siddique which appeared in April.

UPDATE (20 September): I recently wrote to Ghuffar Hussain, politely asking him to clarify Quilliam’s relationship with Flowers and to explain why the ex-EDL event had been cancelled. I also pointed out that Flowers was telling lies about me in order to deflect Evans’ anger away from Quilliam. Hussain declined to reply, although my message was apparently forwarded to Flowers. Flowers then posted a Tweet (since removed), calling me “cunt Bartholomew” and accusing me of harassing Quilliam. That would appear to be the only response that the Quilliam Foundation wishes to make on the matter.

2 Responses

  1. “a shadow has been cast over Quilliam’s integrity”

    Like midnight on charcoal.

  2. […] I raised one concern about the Quilliam Foundation back in August, after an event involving two ex-EDL members was cancelled at short notice. One of the planned […]

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