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Maajid Nawaz Threatens Libel Actions Over Claim He Spreads Conspiracy Theories

At the end of the year, Maajid Nawaz issued a warning to anyone taking his name in vain on social media:

A reminder to those on here who have today overstepped the mark & smeared me already.

I’m watching.

My Guradian US action took this to 5-0 [Link]

After action against Bastani it’s now 6-0 [Link]

I don’t do fail —> [Link]

The links refer to financial settlements and media apologies that Nawaz has previously received over misrepresentations about his past and his present activism. Aaron Bastani had incorrectly described him as being a former terrorist rather than a former Islamist, and others had mischaracterised his current activism against Islamism as “Islamophobia”. Most famously, the SPLC’s insurers paid a substantial sum to the Quilliam Foundation after Nawaz was incorrectly included in a report entitled A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. The matter is discussed in the Atlantic here.

More recently, however, Nawaz has come under criticism for his social media commentary on the Covid pandemic and on the likelihood of Donald Trump overturning the election result. On the latter, Nawaz began in November from the reasonable enough position that liberals ought not to dismiss allegations of fraud or irregularities out of hand, and that they should be mindful of legal and constitutional pathways when results are disputed. However, in the days and weeks that followed he increasingly chose to amplify bad actors and articles containing misinformation, including a dud statistical pseudo-analysis which he only repudiated when it was pointed out him that his source was an anti-Semite (a bit awkward given that Nawaz was about to receive a “Beacon of Light” award from the pro-Israel group StandWithUs UK). Nawaz also dabbled in his own speculations, claiming that Diane Feinstein’s husband invests in Dominion and that this is important because a Feinstein “staffer” (actually her driver) had been exposed as a Chinese spy (in 2013).

Nawaz provided no counter-balance when legal challenges to the election result crashed and burned, or when pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood began making extravagant crackpot assertions. Instead, he warned  that “some people are about to be hit by the constructed reality they’ve been living in since election day” as it became clear that some members of Congress intended to object to the results on 6 January. Even now, he hasn’t explicitly given up on the idea that a report from the Director of National Intelligence on the possibility of foreign interference in the election might give Trump the authority to “act unilaterally”.

Polite disagreement from other Twitter users  has been met with blocks, although for some reason he tolerated extensive critical commentary from Sunder Katwala before finally blocking him on 6 January. Many of Katwala’s Tweets on the subject were threaded and can be seen starting starting here.

This then, was the context for Nawaz bringing his December Tweet to the attention of the actor Eddie Marsan after Marsan described him as “a self publicising shock jock promoting dangerous conspiracy theories”, in response to a similar view expressed by Adam Wagner. Thus was after Nawaz Tweeted that “reports on protestors who stormed Capitol Hill being Antifa infiltrators are becoming impossible to ignore”, based on Laura Ingraham’s amplification of a false story in the Washington Times about how this had been established by a facial recognition company.

Nawaz responded by sending him an RT of the Tweet quoted at the start of this post, adding:

Logged & captured.

PS: I do advise you strongly to delete this libellous tweet, apologise & retract. I have a year ahead of me to keep watching.

I’m no stranger to these dark fields.

And I assure you of my patience.

Marsan responded with a somewhat sarcastic apology, which Nawaz chose to take at face value. However, the legal threat has been met with disgust and derision from various quarters (as rounded up by Tim at Zelo Street here). One Twitter user repeated the claim and tagged Mark Lewis, Nawaz’s go-to lawyer but also someone who represents some of Marsan’s acting friends.

Having followed Nawaz’s output on and off over the years, I generally considered him to be a serious person writing and speaking in good faith. I didn’t agree with some of his positions or activities (such as his heralded “deradicalisation” of Tommy Robinson, which has not turned out well), but I was happy to debunk disinformation that was targeted against him (e.g. here and here). However, he always struck me as somewhat self-righteous and as careless in his some of his media-derived claims, and his complaints about being targeted with threats did not always convince. His trigger-happy recourse to libel threats on Twitter has been problematic before: in 2018, for instance, he threatened to sue Jonathan Portes for having inferred that Nawaz’s exhortation to people to read an article by Douglas Murray meant that he agreed with it. I am no longer of the view that his positive contributions outweigh the negative aspects to his position as a public figure.

4 Responses

  1. Am I right in thinking you are suggesting that all the Trump Election Fraud cases have been judged “Baseless and without evidence”?

    I was under the impression they had all been rejected on technicalities such as out of time/ should have been brought before the election/ no standing/ wrong court/ legislative matter…..

    None of which stopped the neutral unbiased non-prejudiced “reporters”, “news” papers, and the rest of the “liberal” commentariat parroting “Baseless and without evidence” as though they were erm parroting the same script after every case!

  2. Don’t “pro-Trump lawyers” have to be “crackpot” to continue to represent him in the face of “liberal” death threats* not only to themselves, but their colleagues, and even their children?!

    * I would imagine these threats were a lot more serious than the “threats” eg Cathy Newman received after her “interview” of Professor Jordan Peterson such as anti-Social Media comments like she HAD received a VERBAL “Hitch-Slap”!

    Or the “threat” that Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) was investigated for of promising NOT to rape a feminist.

    Then after outraged shrieks from the humourless perpetually offended po-faced Femi-Stasi relenting:

    And promising to try if he could get drunk enough!!!

  3. If you are under the impression that any allegations of fraud were not examined, you are mistaken.

    Some judges did a belt and braces approach, no standing, however even if standing no evidence of fraud, even if there was standing and judge accepted that what was alleged about fraud was true, not enough to overturn results.

    Some cases did not allege fraud even though they were publicised as fraud cases, and were about things like ballot curing, the legality of an older law passed by GOP allowing mail in voting.

    You can read the cases and supporting documents and affidavits in the link below. I have read most of them. I even listened in to a couple of hearings.

    If you are under a particular impression that may be because you are reading something that wants to give you that impression.

    Anyway, if a computer added votes, or flipped them, or they were triple fed through a machine, manual recounts didn’t pick it up so that seems like nonsense for those affiants who made those allegations.

    https://electioncases.osu.edu/case-tracker/?sortby=filing_date_desc&keywords=&status=all&state=all&topic=25

    • Hmmmmmm

      You seem to be under the impression that if some judges took a belt and braces approach the rest don’t need to examine election fraud.

      And that if someone brings evidence despite having no standing that proves there’s no evidence.

      And that fraud and even robbery should be legal as long as you don’t bankrupt your victim.

      And presumably that if say people are charged with causing death (of democracy) they should be let off as long as all the media chant in unison from the same hymn sheet “baseless claims of widespread stealing (an election) without evidence”!

      As for reading the cases your link seems to be out of date.

      I gave up after find the first few were supposedly still pending.

      Do you have a link to the current full judgements and transcripts?!

      Anyway, if a computer added votes, or flipped them, or they were triple fed through a machine, manual recounts wouldn’t pick it up.

      But manual counts wouldn’t pick up fraudulent ballots either.

      And wasn’t there something about paper ballots being shredded so they couldn’t be checked?!

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