Policy Exchange 1; North London Mosque 0

The think-tank Policy Exchange has won its long-running legal battle with a London mosque over its controversial pamphlet, The Hijacking of British Islam, which alleged extremist influences in a number of British mosques.

Mr Justice Eady struck out the libel action brought by the North London Central Mosque and ordered that the mosque pay PX’s costs – likely to be rather large. The first £75,000 is due within 28 days.

It is a significant victory against Islamists’ use of the libel laws to intimidate and silence those exposing their activities.

One of the mosque’s trustees is Mohammed Sawalha, described by the BBC’s Panorama as a former senior figure in Hamas who “is said to have masterminded much of Hamas’s political and military strategy” from his perch in London. Earlier this year, Mr Sawalha also signed the Istanbul Declaration, which calls for attacks against the allies of Israel, which include the UK; the British Government interpreted it as calling for attacks on British troops.

Policy Exchange says on its website: “The Trustees of Policy Exchange are delighted to report that Mr Justice Eady yesterday struck out the claim brought against us by the North London Central Mosque.

“North London Central Mosque commenced an action against Policy Exchange and Dr Denis MacEoin for libel, following publication of our study “The Hijacking of British Islam” in October 2007.

“Six trustees who had advanced the claim on behalf of the North London Central Mosque were ordered to pay Policy Exchange’s costs of defending this action.

The High Court made a further Order that £75,000 of those costs be paid by North London Central Mosque within 28 days.”

(Declaration of interest: I have contributed to two pamphlets for Policy Exchange, although not on this subject.)

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