A taxpayer-funded charity allowed an Islamic extremist to speak alongside the leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Citizens UK gave a platform to Shakeel Begg, an imam in Lewisham, London, at a demonstration on child migrants held outside Parliament in December, alongside Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.
Only six weeks earlier, the High Court ruled the BBC was “overwhelmingly” justified in describing Mr. Begg as an extremist after the broadcaster presented six speeches by the imam as evidence.
Mr. Begg had tried to sue the BBC over the description in a Sunday Politics interview in November 2013, but the judge, Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave, ruled the imam was a “Jekyll and Hyde character” who presented a respectable image but in private “revealed the horns of extremism”.
Despite the ruling, Citizens UK invited him to address the parliamentary rally.
A report by the Henry Jackson Society says the charity invited him to speak “even after the very public outcome of the extremism libel case”.
“For organisations with charitable status, knowingly working with extremists is a matter that can render an organisation subject to investigation by the Charity Commission,” it says.
The Times reports that Citizens UK received £40,000 from the Cabinet Office in the year ending March 2016, as well as £35,331 from Hackney Borough Council and £18,600 from Tower Hamlets Borough Council.
The charity said in a statement that it works with “organisations and institutions” and that Mr. Begg’s mosque had been an active member of South London Citizens for a while.
“During this time the centre has played a positive role in community cohesion, and worked well with other local institutions including churches and synagogues and non-faith groups on various community projects,” it added.
“The event in question was to lobby MPs to uphold the commitment to accept unaccompanied minors into the country as refugees, where there was legal requirement to do so.
“Mr Begg was one of many faith leaders including members from the Christian and Jewish communities coming together to lobby for the same cause.”
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrat leader said: “Citizens UK are a fantastic campaigning organisation and Tim is proud to work with them to try and force the government to accept more unaccompanied child refugees.
“Tim spoke alongside a number of other MPs and speakers at this event. He was not aware of the background of other speakers.”