Investigation exposes “secret anti-Muslim group” operating from the House of Lords

Leaked documents show that a secretive organisation accused of collaborating with far-right Islamophobic activists has operated from the House of Lords for over a decade.  

The organisation, called the New Issues Group (NIG), includes prominent figures like former Ukip leader Malcolm Pearson and Baroness Cox, a former deputy speaker of the House of Lords.

Obtained by the anti-fascist organisation Hope not Hate, the documents suggest that far-right figures drafted questions asked in the House of Lords. There is also evidence of funding from US evangelicals to the UK to support NIG and to help push legislation.  

The report said “members of the House of Lords have been meeting with well-known far-right extremists and representatives of prominent Christian organisations, with the objective of opposing Islam through legislation but also on the streets of the UK. “

The group also said Baroness Cox broke the Lords Code of Conduct for not declaring that she is a director of a company called Equal and Free, which is closely linked to NIG.

Joe Mulhall, research director at Hope not Hate, described the existence of the secretive organisation as “pretty terrifying,” according to the Guardian. “Our investigation found members of the House of Lords collaborating with far-right Islamophobes,” he added.

Founded in 2012, the NIG still exists and met as recently as January. The group was discovered when Pearson mistakenly emailed 235 people without using bcc, revealing the entire list to all recipients.

The list included BBC journalists, personnel from think tanks, and Christian organisations, and addresses of far right figures like Dutch politician Geert Wilders and American Pamela Geller, both of whom were previously banned from entering the UK.

In 2010, Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson caused controversy by inviting Wilders to the UK.

Links to far-right groups

The NIG aims to raise awareness of what its supporters see as the dangers of Islam and Muslims in the UK, using tactics like media engagement, protests, and targeting lawmakers, said Hope not Hate.

The group has conducted events in the House of Lords, introduced private members’ bills, lobbied ministers, and supported anti-Muslim organisations.

Hope not Hate said the documents suggest that the NIG set up charities and played a role in creating several “anti-Muslim and far-right organisations.”

“The defence offered by many of those involved in the NIG is that they are against Islam but are not “anti-Muslim”. However, the findings of this investigation show that the key individuals within the group sometimes make no distinction between Islam and Muslims,” it added.

Over the past decade, many influential individuals associated with the “counter-jihad” movement have been involved in the NIG.

The most high-profile NIG attendee is the infamous far-right leader Anne Marie Waters, who has collaborated with EDL founder Tommy Robinson. Others include Magnus Nielsen, a well-known “anti-Muslim extremist,” and Alan Craig, a former leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance and UKIP member.

“The story of the NIG is deeply troubling. The fact that a secretive organisation designed to push anti-Muslim politics has been operating out of the Parliamentary Estate for over a decade is genuinely shocking,” said Hope not Hate.

“HOPE not hate’s investigation has revealed that members of the House of Lords have been collaborating with known far-right and anti-Muslim extremists and opening doors to them in the corridors of power. It also reveals close collaboration between major Christian evangelical groups and the far right.”

Hope not Hate said all the people in its investigation were contacted for comment. Lord Pearson stressed his views were against Islam and not against Muslims more generally but did not mention the NIG in his response, while Baroness Cox did not address any of Hope not Hate’s comments about the NIG.

The Guardian reported that Cox admitted that the group existed but denied it was anti-Muslim.

“It was a meeting of people who support the aims of my bill,” Cox said, referring to her private members’ bill initially introduced in 2011 about sharia arbitration in Britain. “I have strong support from Muslim women,” she added.

Pearson defended the group against being labelled as anti-Muslim and said its “main purpose has been to support Cox’s bill.”


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