Somaliland:Diane Abbott took donation from Muslim charity barred from receiving Government cash over alleged extremism links
By Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent
Diane Abbott, the new shadow home secretary, took a donation from a charity group alleged to have links with extremist groups.
The Muslim Charities Forum was banned from receiving government aid after an investigation suggested links to a group alleged to fund Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood political movement, as well as poor performance in delivering against agreed objectives.
Ms Abbott accepted a £5,000 donation in kind from the organisation, which paid for her and an assistant to fly to Nairobi as part of a trip to Somaliland.
She declared the funding in the register of member’s interests in May, after the charity had its Government backing removed in August 2015.
Ms Abbott Credit: Telegraph
The Muslim Charities Forum states that it is not extremist and abides by the principles of democracy and interfaith tolerance.
Ms Abbott said: “In April of this year I visited Somaliland as shadow secretary of state for international development to see for myself the effects of the drought. It is not a single organisation, but an umbrella group for 10 Muslim aid organisations. They work in 71 countries around the world and have a combined income £150 million.”
She added: “I have never knowingly worked with an Islamic extremist organisation.”
It came as Jeremy Corbyn was accused of “an act of war” by a former shadow cabinet minister after appointing close allies to his top team and the party’s national executive.
Moderate Tom Watson, the deputy leader, was appointed shadow culture secretary but many of the leader’s allies remain in position, while Valerie Vaz, Keith Vaz’s sister, replaced Paul Flynn as shadow leader of the House.
John Cryer, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, accused Mr Corbyn of failing to engage in peace talks “in any constructive way” amid reports that he has kicked shadow cabinet elections – seen as an olive branch for MPs – into the long grass.
Jonathan Ashworth was appointed shadow secretary of state for health, but lost his seat on the national executive committee to Kate Osamor, giving Mr Corbyn a majority of one in the group.
Last year Eric Pickles, then the communities secretary, announced the Muslim Charities Foundation would be stripped of all Government funding as part of a crackdown into Islamic Extremism.
He said: “Following a formal departmental review of the project, which included examination of the organisation’s poor performance in delivering against agreed objectives, and further allegations raised by the Telegraph, the decision was taken to terminate finding.
“Concerns have also been raised about events held by member organisations, at which individuals with extremist views have been invited to speak. This has undermined their work and means they are no longer able to deliver on the Faith Minorities in Action objectives.
“I hope this action illustrates our resolve to cease funding any organisation that supports or is linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence.”
Eric Pickles Credit: Telegraph
The Muslim Charities Foundation is an umbrella group made up of a number of different groups which was set up in 2007.
In 2014 The Telegraph revealed evidence that one of the charities within the group was alleged to have channeled funds to eight organisations linked to the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Others were alleged to have links to the extremist group Muslim Brotherhood.
A spokesman for the organisation told The Telegraph: ” Diane Abbot joined us on a visit with our members to raise awareness about the drought affecting Somaliland and Somalia.
“We don’t have links to extremist groups nor endorse extremism of any kind. In fact, we and our members have been exonerated by the charity commission with regards to these false allegations.”
Shami Chakrabarti and Mr Corbyn Credit: PA
It came as Shami Chakrabarti was accused of having “sold out the Jewish community” by the Board of Deputies after she took a position in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet shortly after receiving a peerage.
Ms Chakrabarti states the peerage was offered after the report was concluded.
But vice President Marie van der Zyl said: “We are disappointed, but sadly unsurprised, that once again Shami Chakrabarti and Jeremy Corbyn have spectacularly undermined her so-called ‘independent’ report.
“It now looks increasingly like the whitewash was a job application. She has sold out the Jewish community”.