The Henry Jackson Society – “Political Propaganda Masquerading as Education”


Having gone through in detail regarding the incredibly biased and prejudiced former member of the board of Directors of the Henry Jackson Society (William Shawcross) in some depth it is time to scrutinise the “charity” he left behind to take the reign of the Charity Commission.


The Henry Jackson Society Limited was registered as a charity on the 18th of February 2011, at which point it became the plain Henry Jackson Society (HJS).  According to the former Greater Europe Co-Director, then European Neighbourhood Section Director, Marko Attila Hoare (and staffed at HJS for seven years), the HJS was not always a right-wing, anti-Muslim organisation. Despite it being a pro-American and pro-European society it was, according to Hoare, a centrist, cross-partisan organisation. It was not until the merger with the extremist Centre for Social Cohesion and the position of Douglas Murray as the associate Director of HJS, that it took a sharp decline towards the far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-EU stance and nurtured an increasingly obsessive affair with “Islamism”.

HJS Links and Views

The HJS has Douglas Murray as its associate director.  He promulgates the same “Islamic invasion” rhetoric which Anders Breivik shared when he proudly committed his terrorist atrocity.  He has gone on record to say the following regarding Muslims:

“It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.”

With his broad-bushed and bigoted outlook on Islam, he also stated that,

“Islam is not violent per se, though they’re quite good at it when they’re in charge.”

There are loads more gems such as the above on Islam and Muslims however for the sake of brevity the above will suffice.

Murray has shared platforms with the extremists, anti-Muslim Robert Spencer and Melanie Phillips, whose writings contributed to the terrorist Anders Brievik’s “manifesto” and has advocated the deporting and killing of Muslims.

Another prominent member of the HJS is Robin Shepherd who is a biased Muslim-hater. He has in his writing associated cultural “honour” attacks wholesale with Islam and Muslims:

“Honour attacks ranging in brutality from beatings to murder are commonplace in many parts of the Muslim world.”

Shepherd has also shared links to articles on Twitter, which read like a copy and paste job from Robert Spencer’s writings and are written by authors connected to the David Horowitz Freedom Centre – the umbrella organisation running Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch website.

The HJS has also been linked with the non-Charitable, political “think-tank” Quilliam, whose Ghaffar Hussain, replacing Tom Brake (who left after becoming aware of the extremist views held by members of the HJS) became an Associate Fellow.  His name and information has since been removed from the HJS website.

ghaffar hussain removed from HJS

Details of Ghaffar Hussain have been removed from the HJS website

His biography on the Quilliam website also makes no note of his stint at HJS.  This may be due to a possible violation of CC guidelines which I will soon allude too.

In addition to this, conservative party member Michael Gove who is also a neoconservative, was an initial signatory to the HJS statement of principles. According to Geoffrey Wheatcroft, the Conservative party has been stifled with the arrival of,

“the egregious Michael Gove, the Times columnist and MP for Surrey Heath, a copy of whose Muslim-bashing diatribe Celsius 7/7 is given to every lucky person who joins the CFI.”

And of course there is the current head of the CC, William Shawcross, a neocon anti-Muslim who has continued the philosophy of Muslim-demonisation from the HJS into the CC.

At this point it also must be pointed out that neoconservatism is the philosophy of a cabal of the current government. As Peter Oborne writes,

“There are two factions, and the strongest can loosely be described as neoconservative. This faction remains an unconditional supporter of the United States of America, continues to defend the Iraq invasion, powerfully admires and in some cases worships Tony Blair, and automatically takes the side of Israel in the middle east (sic)…. This section of the coalition also takes a hard line on domestic security arrangements, supporting control orders and the divisive Prevent strategy for confronting its special interpretation of the Islamic terror threat. Its key cabinet supporters include George Osborne, Liam Fox, Oliver Letwin, Michael Gove (whose book Celsius 7/7 sought to define the domestic war on terror with astonishing success) and, crucially, the home secretary, Theresa May.”

Considering the above, it is little wonder then, that of the fourteen key publications by the HJS, between April 2014 and April 2013, seven of them are to do with “Islamism”.  And when “Islamism” is being discussed “Islam” and the Muslim minority are firmly in the mind Douglas Murray and his cohorts at the HJS.

HJS’s Charitable Status

According to the Charity Commission website, the purpose of the Henry Jackson Society is to

“To advance the education of the public in national and international political, social, and economic policy, including the promotion of research in any of those areas and the publications of the useful results of such research.”

In Charity law terms, it falls under the header of Education.

Under the Charities Act 2011, a “charity” is to be established for “charitable purposes only” (s.1.(1)(a)), and must confer a “public benefit”.  The former Pemsel heads of charity have now been largely amended and assumed into the Charities Act 2006 as amended by the 2011 Act.  For the purposes of this analysis it is sufficient to establish the fact that it includes the “advancement of education” under section 3.(1)(b).

Charity Commission guidelines include research and adding collective knowledge and understanding of specific areas of study and expertise as part of the advancement of education and highlights “think-tanks” as a possible type of charity.  The research however has certain restrictions which will be discussed through the course of the analysis.

Another legal restriction on charitable purposes is that, given a few exceptions which will be looked at as the discussion progresses, they cannot be political.  This has been made clear in CC guidelines as well as case law as per Bowman v Secular Society [1917] AC 406 and McGovern v Attorney-General [1982] Ch 321.

An analysis of HJS’s Statement of Principles

The HJS may assert a charitable object, however as the equitable maxim highlights, “equity looks at the substance rather than the form”.

From the outset the HJS as asserted a neoconservative stance, with its cross-platform call:

“In short, the Democrats must learn to love the neo-conservatives.”

The Statement of Principles on the HJS website itself has enough material to identify the purpose as being political as opposed to educational – and these political aims are certainly not incidental (or “ancillary” in CC terms) to the main purpose of education but are in fact primary. The Principles begin with an assertion and support of a neoconservative interventionist military policy to advocate beliefs (citing Henry “Scoop” Jackson – an adherent of neoconservatism; his aides included the notorious neocon Paul Wolfowitz and he influenced the Bush administration’s descent into the Iraq invasion.  Currently his views are manifesting themselves as Cameron’s “muscular liberalism”). Amongst its Principles, the HJS,

“Supports a ‘forward strategy’ – involving diplomatic, economic, cultural, and/or political means — to assist those countries that are not yet liberal and democratic to become so.

“Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach, that can protect our homelands from strategic threats, forestall terrorist attacks, and prevent genocide or massive ethnic cleansing.

“Supports the necessary furtherance of European military modernisation and integration under British leadership, preferably within NATO.

“Believes that only modern liberal democratic states are truly legitimate, and that the political or human rights pronouncements of any international or regional organisation which admits undemocratic states lack the legitimacy to which they would be entitled if all their members were democracies.”

It then proceeds to make the tokenistic statement of debate perhaps to satisfy the charitable purpose of education:

“The Henry Jackson Society is dedicated to researching and debating these issues. We do not represent any specific political party or persuasion, but provide a forum for those who agree with these simple guiding principles, or who wish to learn more about them.”

The question is raised, what debate is there exactly if you are providing a forum for those who agree with the above set of neoconservative principles?

The case of Re Koeppler’s Will Trust [1986] CH 423 is applicable here.  In this case a trust sought to educate the public in the differing ways of securing peace and avoiding war, but no particular stance was adopted, and the trust was intended to facilitate genuine discussion and trading of ideas. It was held the trust was indeed charitable. However the key point was that the trust genuinely provided a forum for balanced discussion and trading of ideas and was less partisan than the trust in Southwood v Attorney-General (2000) 80 P & CR D 34, where a trust for the education of the public about disarmament was held not charitable because the main purpose was political.  The HJS in its Principles is forwarding a particular understanding of foreign policy, one which is linked to a form of politics (Henry Jackson’s “muscular liberalism” as adopted by David Cameron and neoconservatism) which traditionally has been looked down upon by human rights organisations due to the negative consequences such policies have on rights.

In Re Ogden [1933] Ch 768, a trust to promote “Liberal principles” in politics was held not to be charitableIn Bonar Law Memorial Trust v IRC [1933] 49 TLR 220 it was held that though the purpose of the charity was the maintenance of an education centre, upon true construction of the whole document, the primary purpose was to promote the views of the Conservative party.

Considering the above assessment it has to be concluded that the purpose of the HJS is most certainly one of a political nature which also happens to support existing Conservative policy. It could be argued that there is a leeway with supporting political parties in the CC guidelines, however this is only the case if the political activity supports the underlying charitable purpose.  In the HJS’s case, the purpose is to research and disseminate topics connected to international politics, economics etc. The substance of HJS however points to a political object, one which is supported by clear bias in the “research” and principles espoused by the HJS. It thus cannot be considered a charity.

Statements made by HJS Staff

An explicit restriction on the Charity is that it cannot lend its support to a particular party. Yet Alan Mendoza in his HJS capacity has favoured the Conservatives over Labour stating that with,

“Labour heading down the route of international irrelevance, Conservatives should have the courage to explore where to stand on”

This quote has been referenced by Sunny Hundal and Hoare, however both of their links to the Conservative Home website are now dead. Nevertheless, there is evidence of this statement being on the Conservative Home website:

alan mendoza supporting conservatives

As per Re Hopkinson and Southwood v Attorney-General, this cannot be considered a Charitable purpose and falls foul of CC guidelines:

“A charity cannot give general support to a political party, because all political parties have a range of policies.”

HJS Political Activities

According to HJS’s own description of themselves:

“The Henry Jackson Society is a cross-partisan, British-based think-tank. Our founders and supporters are united by a common interest in fostering a strong British and European commitment towards freedom, liberty, constitutional democracy, human rights, governmental and institutional reform and a robust foreign, security and defence policy and transatlantic alliance.”

The above description contains within it a clearly political purpose which seeks government and institutional reform.  It is pursuing a political objective and therefore cannot be regarded as incidental. The courts have been reluctant to afford a charitable status to charities which seek a change in law or policy as they do not see themselves as arbiters of determining whether proposed changes are in the public benefit (Bowman v Secular Society) and the courts would be trespassing the functionality of Parliament and the legislature (McGovern v Attorney General). The CC guidelines do allow for this, but the restriction is per case law: that such a dedication should not become the purpose of the Charity and must assist in achieving the charitable purpose.

Having established the possibility of charitable vitiation based upon their Statement of Principles and HJS staff statements and their own description, it is worth examining some of the activities which HJS is involved in, as the HJS activities are not limited in researching and disseminating findings for the purposes of education. The HJS has actively been involved in advising in policy discussions.

 HJS and Parliamentary Discussions

The CC guidance document on engaging political activity makes it permissible to engage with such activity if it furthers the purpose of the Charity. This includes changes to the law and policy. The examples give on the CC website reinforce this point. For instance:

“A local charity for homeless people provides assistance in connection with an appeal against a decision of a local authority not to award accommodation.”

In other words the political activity or engagement with party politics or politician is only for the purpose of furthering the charitable object. In the case of HJS, this is

“To advance the education of the public in national and international political, social, and economic policy, including the promotion of research in any of those areas and the publications of the useful results of such research.”

Nowhere in the above charitable object is there a mention of providing advice to the government, as understandably this would be a political objective. Furthermore the political activity should be to ensure the facilitation of the education of public.

The HJS has advanced its neocon military and foreign policy. In the context of arms sales,

“The Henry Jackson Society called for the UK to “fundamentally reappraise its policy of selling arms to undemocratic regimes”, and warned that the UK should recognise “how quickly situations can develop where those arms are used not to deter foreign aggression but to quell internal dissent.”

In the Select Committee report discussing “soft power”, the Committee highlights that,

“The Henry Jackson Society described how NATO depended on soft power as well as the threat of force: “The UK’s alliance with the US is rooted in cultural affinity and genuine capability, but it has a broader effect via NATO, where there remains a core partnership with serious non-military effects in our ability to shape global governance.””

The HJS has also submitted as evidence reports regarding the foreign policy approach to be taken with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These examples do not further the purpose of the charity which is education of the public. Rather they are examples of biased advice being given or submitted to the government with intent to bring government policy in-line with neoconservative thinking.

Quilliam, Rahim Kassam, Student Rights and non-Charitable Funding

Raheem Kassam is another neoconservative upstart who was the marketing director for the HJS and is currently the director of Student Rights a “think-tank” which “counters extremism”. Student Rights is known to disproportionately target Muslims and whip up anti-Muslim sentiment, stirring right-wing extremist hate groups like the EDL and Casuals United. It has also undermined the Palestine Solidarity Campaigns on campuses.

The blatant bigotry of this unrepresentative non-student organisation has resulted in a grass-roots counter-movement which is actually run by students. Several universities have now slammed the Student Rights group passing motions officially condemning it.

Of late the Student Rights organisation has been exposed by activists as a “front” for the HJS, and has been receiving funding from it. The fact that the two groups are sharing office space together also demonstrates a degree of nexus between the two.

If this is the case then it would fall foul of CC guidelines on working with other organisations:

“Legally, as long as the charities can justify the collaboration as furthering their own objects, there is scope for collaborative working.”

This is due to the fact that Student Rights group deals with “counter-extremism”, which is a purely political endeavour and bares no relevance to HJS’s charitable of object of education. Adding to this is the lack of neutrality in the “studies” which Students Rights creates and the disproportionate targeting of the Muslim minority (as opposed to right-wing extremism) and the case against HJS continues to mount.

The above analysis applies equally to the collaboration with Quilliam. If Ghaffar Hussain was an employ at the same time as his stint at the HJS, then this could be a violation of CC guidelines.

Concluding Remarks

The Henry Jackson Society consists of people who have contributed to the same narrative Andres Brievik adhered to and outlined in his terrorist manifesto – that Islam and the Muslim were invading Europe. HJS’s political philosophy of neoconservatism tallies with that of the views held by a faction of the government which happen to also be conservatives. Its endeavours, statements and front group Student Rights have furthered the neoconservative agenda and contravened the very essence of a charity. It is without a doubt an affront to the concept of a charity and as such its charitable status should be removed by the CC and if not the CC then courts should intervene.

Will the CC act though? It is interesting to note that the appointment of the right-wing neocon William Shawcross came on the back of severe criticisms being levelled at right-wing think-tanks by the CC. Atlantic Bridge is another right-wing think-tank set up by neocon extraordinaire Liam Fox as well as Michael Gove and George Osborne. It came under fire for want of neutrality and having a political purpose (it promoted Atlanticism which is similar in many ways to the HJS and which seeks the unity in among other aspects, defensive policy between the US and Europe). The then chair of the CC Dame Suzi deregistered the charity stating,

“’Think tanks can be bona fide educational charities, but the crucial thing is whether their objects are right and whether their activities reflect those objects. In this case they absolutely didn’t… [it is a] credit to the regulation of charities that Atlantic Bridge is no longer a charity’ and its removal from the Register sends a message to other charities that they cannot operate in such a way.”

Labour MP Paul Flynn went further, arguing that merely deregistering it without any restitution meant that they got off “scott-free”, and meant that other charities could get away with bad behaviour.

This created a furore amongst the Conservatives and at the end of Dame Suzi’s tenure as the chair, Shawcross was maneuvered-in and a coup of the CC board members was instigated. This is what Baroness Sally Morgan was referring to when she suggested that these appointments were “politically motivated” and claimed that she was the victim of a “determined effort from Number 10” to appoint more Conservative party loyalists.

Will the CC deregister HJS? Given it is made up of anti-Muslim individuals whose sentiments percolate into biased opinions and “research”, in the words of Vaisey J, HJS “education” is,

“Political propaganda… masquerading as education”. (Re Hopkinson [1949] 1 All ER 346)

The pressure is on and the noose-like test of neutrality is around the neck of Shawcross.

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