Mehdi Hasan has thrown down a gauntlet to me. Does Maajid Nawaz’s public pronouncements regarding when taxpayer funding ended square with the revelation on Newsnight recently of funding from the Department For Education (DfE)?
According to their policy editor Chris Cook:
In March 2011, the Home Office refused to continue funding the body, which had enjoyed public support, and which then said it needed £150,000 to keep working.
Defending that decision, Damian Green, a Home Office minister, said that “Quilliam should be free to contribute to the wider debate, but not depend on government funding to do so”.
Shortly afterwards, however, the DfE stepped in. Its ledgers confirm that, in May 2011, it contributed £120,000 to the think tank.
The date of this new funding being paid, May 2011, do not seem to square with Maajid Nawaz’s public statements when tax payer money ceased to be awarded to the Quilliam Foundation:
On twitter this was how Mehdi Hasan described the situation:
Regarding Home Office money still being payed to the Quilliam Foundation, that appears unlikely to be in 2012 as Mehdi states given the Freedom of Information (FOI) request for when they were funded:
I do not know the exact date paid, but that £26 thousand is in the financial year 2011-2012. Add that amount to the DfE figure and it is more or less what the Quilliam Foundation were after.
Indeed to help with a transition away from government grants it appears the Home Office initially offered £40,000 to assist in 2011 according to a report here which Maajid Nawaz commented on as being too short.
So did Maajid Nawaz lie about funding? And, what would I say if it was Mohammed Shafiq rather than Maajid? Well, interestingly when 5 Pillarz requested FOI on Quilliam funding they did so on Shafiq’s Ramadan Foundation. To which the Home Office replied:
The Home Office did not disclose any information in regards to Ramadhan Foundation. They stated: “Regarding any other information we neither confirm nor deny whether we hold information you requested. Sections 24 (2), 38 (2) and 43 (3) of the Freedom Information Act absolve us from the requirement to say whether or not we hold information. These exemptions relate to national security, health and safety and commercial interest tests, are set out in the attached Annex.”
However, Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramdhaan [sic] Foundation has consistently denied ever receiving government funds.
5 Pillarz reported this story in November 2013 – but I have not heard anyone accusing Mo Shafiq of getting into bed with the government possibly in interests of national security against Muslims. Is anyone asking if he might be a government stooge, part of an undercover PREVENT strategy? Involved in counter terrorism activities that any funding he or any organisation he may be linked to cannot be disclosed as coming from Her Majesty’s Government? If Quilliam deserves that kind of accusation and scrutiny surely Ramadan Foundation and Mohammed Shafiq do too.
Quilliam Funding 2011
I linked to this tweet of Maajid’s:
In essence the decision to cut funding was taken in 2010, and some pre-cut decision funding agreed for the financial year 2010-11 continued to come in during 2011. Thing is, that does not explain the DfE money.
That money was from a new department of state (from Home Office to DfE) and rather than seed money this was transition money – still tax payer money and ear marked as helping the Quilliam Foundation to keep going in 2011 till non government funding could be found on a regular basis.
So unless that money was agreed very soon after the December 2010 decision by the Home Office to cease funding Quilliam, it was decided as new money in 2011. And paid in 2011. If Maajid meant continuous funding ended in 2010, but some money including a one off DfE special transition amount of £120,000 was paid in 2011 … well these tweets do not read like that.
Let alone this tweet:
The financial situation in 2011 for Quilliam was reported by The Guardian as:
If the latest accounts – for the financial year up to March 2012 – filed by the Quilliam Foundation are anything to go by, the high-profile injection of publicity also comes at a time when it may be facing challenging financial circumstances.
Two years after the Home Office began to wind down its funding for the organisation, those accounts show that Quilliam was facing mounting debts, while having little in the way of relative assets. Income from training, consultancy and publications were haemorrhaging, while its income from grants and donations fell from just over £900,000 in 2011 to £532,099 in 2012.
The company was in particular trouble in 2011, making a loss, but after taking radical action to cut back on expenses and parting company with half of its staff, it was just about able to make it into the red again in the following year, when Nawaz paid himself £77,438.
This would suggest the cash injection by the DfE of £120,000 was a vital lifeline for the Quilliam Foundation. As indeed Maajid Nawaz stated at the time when asking for £150,000 – as they made a loss according to the above report even with government funds.
Maybe Maajid Nawaz meant ongoing automatic, year after year, seed funding was to be stopped. Maybe he was lumping all the public funding together rather than drawing special attention to the DfE funding. But it does look like obfuscation over the issue of when government funding ended, even though it would appear in Company House records. If I wanted to be uncharitable I might call it lying if I did not know the following.
The big thing is the last funding from the tax payer came in 2011 still, which we all knew before Newsnight. The decision to end Home Office funding was made in 2010, but pre-agreed funds would still be paid into end of financial year March 2011. It was public knowledge in March 2011 that the home office offered £40,000 in transition funds.
We knew the Home Office was offering, and gave, transition funding in 2011. Maajid Nawaz acknowledged that.
Maybe a bigger song and dance should have been made publicly that the DfE came in to fund a further £120,000 for transition funding in May 2011. The question why this was not made clearer is a legitimate one given Quilliam may have had further financial difficulties without such largess.
One answer would seem to be the public tiff between the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary over tackling extremism this might have generated at the time. As we have seen happen over the Trojan Horse/OfSted reports. But I think it should have been known at the time.
It is not quite a smoking gun, let alone a steaming pork pie. But I would advise Maajid to say “last government funding came in 2011 and stopped after that”, to avoid any ambiguity over decision to cut date/last penny received date. He might feel this is no big deal, but I hope he recognises even molehills can cause trouble in your back garden if you personally do not attend to them.
On that matter, perhaps someone could ask Mohammed Shafiq why the government will not tell us what funding he or his organisation may or may not be getting from the government? I throw that gauntlet down for someone else.
Update Sunday 8 June 2014 9:25PM:
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog