Prevent Watch, an organization which monitors the government’s controversial counterterrorism programme, has sent a formal letter to the Home Office threatening legal action over the delayed governmental review into Prevent.
The programme has been under review by the independent commissioner William Shawcross, since January 2021 but no report has yet been published. The Guardian has reported that leaked extracts of the report suggest it will find that Prevent is too focused on rightwing extremism and should instead focus on Islamic extremism.
Prevent Watch is one of 500 organisations and individuals that boycotted Shawcross’s review because of controversial comments he has made previously about Islam. Shawcross is a Senior Fellow at the organisation Policy Exchange, which has previously criticized Prevent Watch in a report published in April 2022, where it was suggested that organizations which raise concerns about Prevent are “enabling terrorism”.
Prevent Watch, which works with 600 individuals it claims to have been wrongly affected by Prevent, also sent a formal letter to the Home Office threatening to bring a legal action due to fears that the organisation is mentioned in Shawcross’s unpublished review.
Director of Prevent Watch, Dr Aithadj comments that it is likely Prevent Watch was named in Shawcross’s review as one of those organisations who are critical of the Prevent programme who it is said makes them supportive of Islamic extremism, a claim which “is seriously defamatory”, she said, according to the Guardian.
A government spokesperson has said: “The government is currently reviewing the recommendations of the independent reviewer and will publish the report and our response in due course. It is only right that the government takes the time to prepare and deliver a considered response.”