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14 Jul, 2020 15:57

UK Home Office handed over £80,000 to neocon lobby group which financed Tory MPs’ US trips – report

UK Home Office handed over £80,000 to neocon lobby group which financed Tory MPs’ US trips – report

A London-based neocon lobby group which helped cover costs for Tory politicians’ trips abroad, received tens of thousands of pounds from the UK Home Office to conduct research into Islamist terrorism, according to a new report.

An investigation carried out by Declassified UK and published on Tuesday has revealed that the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) – a right-wing foreign policy think tank – was handed £83,452.32 from the UK Home Office in four payments from 2015 and 2017. The neocon pressure group was given the money to produce a report on UK links to Islamist terrorism.

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The HJS has dished out more than £12,000 mainly to UK Conservative lawmakers since 2013, with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove being the two highest profile politicians to receive funds, while serving as backbench MPs.

The report’s authors say Patel was given £2,500 by the group in 2013 to pay for her trip to Washington, DC to be a “delegate” at a convention organized by Israel lobby group AIPAC, and attend an HJS “program” in the US Congress.

Gove – who has been closely involved with the HJS over many years – was paid £2,764 by the think tank in 2016 for him and his family to visit New York. According to Declassified UK, the prime purpose of the Tory MP’s trip was to receive an award on behalf of the HJS at the anniversary of the Algemeiner Journal – a right-wing pro-Israel publication – and “attend events organised by the Henry Jackson Society.”

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The Tory also served as one of the group’s directors for six months in 2017, before resigning to take on the post of environment secretary under then-Prime Minister Theresa May.

The HJS is a registered charity under British law, but has continually refused to reveal its funders.

Declassified UK claims that the Home Office blocked the release of new information in the form of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request over the course of nearly a year, citing “safeguarding national security” reasons. The initial information request, made in May 2019, was rejected and only granted in April 2020 after an “internal review” conducted by the Home Office.

Responding to the report, spokesperson for the HJS Sam Armstrong told Declassified UK that the group was “proud” that the British government was "generous enough to make a contribution" after recognizing the “value and integrity” of their research on Islamist terrorism.

The HJS reportedly did not explain when asked why the contract they signed with the UK Home Office had not been publicized at the time.

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