London (MEE) – Government critics have accused PM Theresa May of suppressing the report due to incriminating evidence relating to Saudi Arabia.
The UK government has confirmed that it will not be publishing the findings of an inquiry into the funding of “extremism” despite declaring on Wednesday that it was the “best picture we have ever had of how extremists operating in the UK sustain their activities.”
In a written statement, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the findings of the report indicated that the majority of extremist funding in the UK came from “small, anonymous public donations, with the majority of these donations most likely coming from UK-based individuals.”
She added that some organisations of “extremist concern” portrayed themselves as charities in order to “increase their credibility and to take advantage of Islam’s emphasis on charity”.
“Some are purposefully vague about their activities and their charitable status,” read the statement.
The row over the release of the report began last week after a question was put to the Home Office about when the report, originally commissioned by former prime minister David Cameron in 2015, would be released.
In written answers to Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, the Home Office and Downing Street confirmed that a report had been produced into foreign funding of “extremism” but that its release was a “decision for the prime minister”.
Critics have accused the government of preventing the report’s release due to potentially incriminating evidence about the UK’s close ally Saudi Arabia – however, the report’s summary played down the suggestion that foreign funding was a major factor in UK extremism.
For the vast majority of extremist groups in the UK, overseas funding is not a significant source
– Amber Rudd, home secretary
“For a small number of organisations with which there are extremism concerns, overseas funding is a significant source of income,” the report had found, according to the statement.
“However, for the vast majority of extremist groups in the UK, overseas funding is not a significant source.”
Lucas criticised the decision not to publish the report.
“The government accepts that foreign funding is a significant source of income for some extremist groups here in Britain – but they won’t say in public where that money is coming from,” she was quoted as saying by Business Insider on Wednesday.
“It’s not good enough to simply let privy councillors see this report – because such a rule excludes party leaders like myself who are trying to hold this government to account on this issue and shine a spotlight on the deep complicity between Whitehall and Riyadh.”
May has deepened ties between London and Riyadh, visiting the kingdom after triggering the Brexit process for the UK to leave the European Union.
The UK has licensed about £3.3bn ($4.3) of weapons to the kingdom since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign in Yemen which has been widely criticised for creating a humanitarian crisis in the country.
More than 10,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. An outbreak of cholera has killed at least 1,500 and infected more than 300,000, while 18 million face famine.
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said last week that the Conservatives had made a promise to publish the report by spring 2016, as part of a deal made with his party when they shared power in the coalition government before the Conservatives won a majority in 2015.
However, both Rudd and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have indicated that the contents of the report may never be made public.
“We hear regularly about the Saudi arms deals or ministers going to Riyadh to kowtow before their royal family, but yet our government won’t release a report that will clearly criticize Saudi Arabia,” said Farron, according to the Guardian.
This post by Alex MacDonald originally ran on Middle East Eye.
Also published on Medium.