Saturday, February 12, 2005

A message from Mr Tony Bennet of Veritas

We have received the following communication from Mr Tony Bennet, a non-office holder in the newly emergent party, Veritas, one-time researcher for Robert Kilroy-Silk Esq, which we reproduce below, without comment.

Readers will note the following sentence near the end of the communication:

Unless we have a swift response from both of you, I will have to notify your respective hosters and ask them to suspend the services to you.

Message as follows:

To: Richard North and Robert Oulds, Bruges Group


I write with reference to the attached article, 'In Veritas, Islamophobia', which has appeared on your respective websites during the past week.

You have reproduced an article from the Guardian newspaper on 3 February substantially about me.

You need to be aware that the article contains four significant factual inaccuracies about me. These inaccuracies have been taken up with the Guardian Newspaper and the Press Complaints Commission.

A similar complaint has been made against the Observer Newspaper and the Press Complaints Commission about an article last Sunday which recycled the Guardian allegations.

The current position (today, Friday 10th) is that the Observer has consented to every word of a correction I have sought and the Press Complaints Commission has upheld my complaint. I am awaiting a decision from the Guardian but I expect it to be the same; after all, they are sister newspapers.

The four inaccuracies drawn to the Guardian's attention were as follows:

Statement 1: “A key member of Robert Kilroy-Silk’s new political party…”

Correction: I am not a ‘key’ member. I hold no office within Veritas. I merely performed some administrative tasks in order to register the Party with the Electoral Commission.

Statement 2: “Anthony Bennett was fired from the UK Independence Party last year…”

Correction: I have never been ‘fired ‘ by the U.K. Independence Party.

Statement 3: “..publishing a pamphlet which described the Prophet Muhammad as a paedophile”

Correction: I reproduced the historical fact – accepted as such by all leading Islamic scholars and featured in a collection of Islamic ‘holy’ books called the Hadith – that one of Muhammad’s brides, Aisha, was eight years old (possibly nine) when their marriage (they were engaged when she was six) was consummated. I did not ‘describe Muhammad as a paedophile’. [Incidentally, these same Islamic scholars accept that Muhammad was either 53 or 54 when this marriage was consummated]

Statement 4: “Mr Bennett [was] banned last year from holding any UKIP office for two years…”

Correction: During ‘last year’ (2004), not only was I not banned from holding office, I was twice a candidate for UKIP – once in the Harlow District Council election in June, gaining a 20% share of the vote, and a second time in a County Council election in December, gaining a 10.5% share of the vote. These elections and the results are of course a matter of record and you may check the results with the respective Returning Officers.

On the allegation that my contact with Mr Anderson tars us with the brush of ‘racism and Islamophobia’ (paragraph 3 of the article), these are wholly unjustified personal slurs for which you have no evidence. On the claim of Islamophobia, I spent a considerable amount of time last year and the year before assisting a Muslim man I have known in Harlow for over 20 years - someone I helped many times when I was the town’s Principal Welfare Rights Adviser (1978-87). I assisted Mahmood Siddiqui to claim one of the largest-ever compensation awards for racial discrimination (reported in the press, including I think in your newspaper) from the Royal Mail, at an Employment Tribunal. This included representing him at the Tribunal and accompanying him to the Commission for Racial Equality in London. Not, I venture to suggest, the actions of someone whom the Guardian newspaper successfully portrays as ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’.

Talk also to my long-standing ex-Labour Councillor friend in the town, Feroz Khan, another Muslim. Or the Bangladeshi Muslim family who have for 20 years sent me and my family a Christmas card out of gratitude for the help I gave them, in respect of their Downs Syndrome son, to prevent Social Services removing him from their care. I expect much better journalistic standards than this from a British broadsheet newspaper.

I therefore require you to print..." [REST SNIPPED]

Now I come to the second part of your article, where you allege that a leading member of VERITAS is guilty of 'virulent anti-Semnitism' and beig a 'holocaust-denier'. We know precisely to whom you are referring. We also know the accusation to be baselees. There is no evidence whatsoever that you could produce to substantiate it. It is an adverse reflection on both of you that the allegations were even raised. Both you and the Bruges Group must withdraw those allegations.

The whole article must be removed from your respective websites, including the reference to 'dubious characters'. I am sure we could all think of people with records that we might describe as 'dubious'. In this context, however, you are branding VERITAS as having amomgst its leaders racists, Islamophobes and holocast-deniers.

Unless we have a swift response from both of you, I will have to notify your respective hosters and ask them to suspend the services to you.

A copy of this letter is being retained.

I have left a message for Robert Oulds on the Bruges Group number but no-one has replied yet.

Tony Bennett
01279 635789
In view of the above, we will be removing the article to which Mr Bennet objects from our archives.

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