Prevent Watch, an organisation that monitors the controversial counter-extremism strategy Prevent, has warned of a defamation action against the Home Office before a review into the strategy.
Prevent Watch, which has supported 600 individuals it says have wrongly been affected by Prevent, sent a formal letter to the department threatening legal action.
In January 2021, the government appointed William Shawcross to conduct an independent review into Prevent. The much-delayed review, initially due to be published at the end of 2021, is yet to see the light of day.
Some media have reported the delay is due to fears that the government could get sued for potentially libellous references to organisations critical of the Prevent programme.
Prevent Watch has launched the legal action because of fears that the organisation is listed in Shawcross’s unpublished review, which has been shared with some media outlets, in a libellous way as being supportive of Islamic extremism because it opposes the Prevent programme.
Dr Layla Aitlhadj, the director of Prevent Watch, says she believes it is likely their organisation has been named in Shawcross’s review as one of those critical of the Prevent programme who are responsible for spreading Islamic extremism, a claim which, if it is made in Shawcross’s review, she says is seriously defamatory.
- The People’s Review of Prevent (Report, 2022)
- Expert View: Things to remember about the government’s independent review of Prevent (News, 2023)
- The Guardian: Government refuses to disclose whether Prevent strategy will be redacted (News, 2022)
Read more about Prevent Watch.