British luvvies have been lining up to star in a film which points the finger of blame for atrocities in Syria on the British government, but the production has been forced to distance itself from one of the co-writers after it emerged that he is a spokesman for Cage, the so-called human rights group which last month defended Jihadi John.
Sir Ben Kingsley, Emily Watson and Saoirse Ronan are all set to star in The Secret Evidence, working alongside an award winning crew. The film, which has already raised £6 million, is being produced by Golden Globe-winning producer J Todd Harris, and will be directed by Nicholas Racz. It is set to shoot in London’s Pinewood studios, the Daily Mail has reported.
But the project has been cast into doubt as it has emerged that one of the co-authors is Cerie Bullivant, a British convert to Islam of Irish heritage who lived for two years under a control order as a terrorist suspect before being exonerated.
He claims that he had been planning to travel to Syria purely to learn Arabic and teach English to orphans. The British government suspected his motives for travel were darker, but have never released any evidence nor publicly stated their concerns. A judge ruled that the evidence against him was “flimsy” at best. The film is thought to be loosely based on his experiences.
Potential investors in the film have been presented with a document, seen by the Mail, which clearly states that the film is “co-written by Cerie Bullivant”, whilst an invitation to a high profile event due to take place this evening in order to attract investors also stated that “it was co-written by Cerie Bullivant, who was wrongly sent to Belmarsh at 23.” The event is being co-hosted by the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti.
As an activist who is championed by Liberty – in 2011 he was awarded the Liberty Human Rights Young Person of the Year – it is easy to see why he was originally thought to be an asset to the film.
But following the unmasking of Mohammed Emwazi as Jihadi John last month, Bullivant, and the organisation he works for, Cage, have sought to blame the British intelligence services for Emwazi’s radicalisation and murderous actions, making Bullivant and his film a less saleable proposition.
“He [Emwazi] was looking to get married, get a good job and settle down,” Bullivant told the Islam Channel earlier this month. “If that had happened, if our security forces had not had stopped him, would he be cutting off heads now? We have a two year picture of a man constantly…trying to move his life forward and we see a pattern of security services stopping that.
“We even see a pattern of the police pinning him up against the wall and strangling him. This is a chilling simile when you look at what he ended up doing to other people.”
Bullivant also attracted interest when he stormed off Sky News during an interview with Kay Burley, claiming that her line of questioning over whether he condemned the beheadings was “Islamphobic”.
His colleagues at Cage likewise made headlines when their research director Asim Qureshi described Jihadi John, who callously beheaded a number of hostages in Syria including James Foley and Alan Henning, as an “extremely gentle, kind” and a “beautiful young man”.
The invitation to the Liberty fund raising event this evening has since been reissued without the line about Bullivant.
Director Nicholas Racz commented “Cerie generously said there was no reason for him to be mentioned. It was an association that wasn’t helpful to the movie. Cerie’s involvement was some five years ago where he was involved as a co-writer. This was before his involvement with Cage and the movie is not based on his life. He has contributed to the script, absolutely, and he will still be paid for that if the film is made but it won’t be a significant amount of money.”
And Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti admitted Bullivant had “some involvement” in the film, saying “My understanding is that Cerie Bullivant is one of a number of stories that inspired this film.
“Whatever you may think of Cerie Bullivant, he did suffer a miscarriage of justice many years ago, and there will continue to be many more miscarriages of justice if we continue down this path. Fiction is more powerful than anything and I really hope this is a great inspiring film exposing secret courts and secret justice.”