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Watching Prevent Watch – The Telegraph and Ifhat Smith

Readers may have noticed this apology which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph a few days ago.  It concluded:

We wish to make clear that Mrs Smith is not a member of or affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood or an Islamic extremist and that in fact her complaint over her son’s treatment was brought in good faith. We apologise to Mrs Smith for any contrary impression and for the distress the article, and our editorial, caused her; we have agreed to pay her appropriate compensation accordingly.

Gilligan feels the apology was misplaced. Smith, he explains, is alleged to have links with the Tunisian Islamist party Ennadha and to be a supporter of CAGE. (As with the recent Shakeel Begg case, much might depend on how you define the term ‘extremist’.)

The apology certainly occludes some interesting background to Ifhat Smith. She was at the centre of an accusation against Prevent which, on further investigation, seemed more than a little souped up.

Among this number was a lady called Ifhat Smith, also known as Ifhat Shaheen or Ifhat Shaheen-Smith, who won copious newsprint and airtime with a claim that her schoolboy son had been “interrogated” and “treated as a criminal” because he had used the phrase “eco-terrorism” in class. It was, she told the BBC, the act of a “police state.”

I discovered that when Mrs Smith took the school (and the Government) to court over the matter, her claim had been dismissed in scathing terms as “bound to fail” and “totally without merit” and she had even been ordered to pay £1000 for wasting the court’s time.

Gilligan also explains that assertions Smith had nothing to do with Prevent Watch – a group set up with the sole purpose of discrediting the Government’s counter-terrorism policy –  could easily be countered.

[A]t the time of publication Mrs Smith was already booked to speak at least four Prevent Watch or anti-Prevent public meetings in the following few weeks (see hereherehereand here.)

The apology does not have a bearing on the damning verdict on Smith brought by IPSO. But, as might be expected, it is being weaponised in order to clear her of all criticism and completely discredit Gilligan. Here’s a predictable screed from Coolness of Hind.