Theresa May accused of burying report on Islamist extremism
UK ties with Saudi Arabia questioned as it emerges report on sources of funding of extremist cells in the UK has been held by Theresa May for six months
Theresa May - Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Theresa May has been accused of burying a report into Islamist extremism in order to protect diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.
Yesterday it emerged via written answers to Green MP Caroline Lucas that the report, originally commissioned by David Cameron in January 2016 and due to be completed by last Easter, has been in the Prime Minister’s possession for at least six months.
During that time there have been at least three related terrorist attacks on the UK, including two during the general election campaign. May also visited Saudi Arabia on a trade mission shortly after triggering Brexit.
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It is understood the Home Office report focuses on the funding and fostering of extremism in the UK from foreign influences, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
The Home Office said publication of the review, which was designed to examine the origins and scale of funding for UK extremist groups, was a matter for the Prime Minister.
Ahead of the election, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied the report had been suppressed, and said it was never intended for publication.
The Green party co-leader, Caroline Lucas, who pressed the Home Office and Downing Street on the issue, said the delay in publishing the report “leaves question marks over whether their decision is influenced by our diplomatic ties”.
The review was initially undertaken by Cameron in exchange for Liberal Democrat support for extending British airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria in December 2015.
Outgoing Lib Dem leader Tim Farron however said the move to hide the report showed Downing Street was “desperate to keep Saudi Arabia happy”.
“The Government are covering up this report. It’s a scandal that this is sitting in Downing Street gathering dust. What has the prime minister got to hide?,” he said.
“I believe this report will be deeply critical of Saudi [Arabia] and that is why it is being hidden from the public. The government seems too desperate to keep Saudi Arabia happy rather than stand up to them.”
May spoke with Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia yesterday to congratulate him on his recent appointment as Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister and encourage "close bilateral ties" including in "trade, investment and security".
"The Prime Minister raised the issue of the ongoing isolation of Qatar in the region. She reiterated the need for all sides take urgent steps to de-escalate the situation and restore Gulf Cooperation Council unity," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
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