Home Office stands down as independent reviewer of Prevent programme

The government has stood down Lord Carlile from the role of Independent Reviewer of the Prevent programme in the face of a legal challenge.

Rights Watch (UK) said the government had conceded its position on all grounds in relation to the challenge it brought and was currently considering its options relating to a future review.

The charity had issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court on 16 October 2019 seeking to challenge the Home Secretary’s appointment of Lord Carlile and the issuing of what it claimed was overly confined Terms of Reference.

Rights Watch (UK) claimed that Lord Carlile could not be truly independent because he oversaw the Government's first review of Prevent in 2011, sat on the Prevent Oversight Board in recent years and had expressed public support for the strategy.

Carolin Ott from the human rights team at Leigh Day said: “We are pleased that the Government has conceded that the independent reviewer of Prevent and terms of reference need to be rethought. It is regrettable that it has taken the threat of a court hearing and a delay of over four months for this concession to be made.

“However, we hope that reconsideration of the independent reviewer and approach to the terms of reference will lead to a much needed, rigorous and thorough review of the controversial Prevent strategy.”

Yasmine Ahmed, Executive Director of Rights Watch UK, said: “This is an outstanding victory for those who are committed to seeing a genuine and robust review of the Prevent strategy.

“It is critical, now more than ever, that we have an effective and independent Review that can properly and thoroughly scrutinise the Government’s approach to countering terrorism. This is not the time for the Government to be marking their own homework by watering down the Terms of Reference or the stringency of the Review when the efficacy of its counter-terrorism needs to be carefully and robustly assessed.  It is critical that this Review is equipped to achieve that outcome; our lives and liberty are at stake.”

Dan Squires QC and Tim James-Matthews from Matrix Chambers were instructed by Leigh Day.

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