All the complaints appeared to have no effect: the Quilliam “research” on so-called “grooming gangs” remained unaltered, the authors weren’t engaging with anyone questioning it, and nor was co-founder Maajid Nawaz. This was despite researchers like Dr Ella Cockbain setting out its shortcomings, and that, although rather too many groups had already accepted its findings as data, it should not be treated as reliable.
This, though, all changed yesterday, not that Quilliam advertised the fact. The claims made for their “research” were quietly amended. The changes are subtle enough for the untrained eye to miss, and can only be picked up by putting the Before and After side to side to effect a comparison. So let’s see what’s different.
Both versions tell readers “More recently, case after case of this horrendous crime has been splashed over the news, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the vast majority of offenders have been of Asian ethnicity”. Or, in other words, leading the reader.
BEFORE - now you see it
Then comes this passage: “The report will therefore provide a comprehensive data analysis of all group child sex offences committed in the United Kingdom over a period of 12 years in order to definitively demonstrate whether one ethnic, racial or religious group is disproportionately represented in such convictions, and if this is indeed the case, go on to explore why this might be the case. The report will conclude with recommendations on how to move towards solution-building”. This is the one that has been changed.
AFTER - now you don't
It is now “The report will therefore provide [‘a comprehensive’ removed ] data analysis of [‘all group child sex’ replaced by ‘group-based CSE’] offences committed in the United Kingdom over a period of 12 years in order to [‘definitively’ removed] demonstrate whether one ethnic, racial or religious group is disproportionately represented in such convictions, and if this is indeed the case, go on to explore why this might be the case. The report will conclude with recommendations on how to move towards solution-building”.
In other words, Quilliam has begun its climbdown. Those taking an interest in such matters will not be impressed that no revision history was shown, nor any revision described; the changes had to be teased out by a line-by-line analysis. This is sly and dishonest.
Small wonder Dr Cockbain has told “Alert: @QuilliamOrg is IN RETREAT. Corrections have been made to two majorly flawed claims of the original report. Numerous other flaws & rotten foundations still not addressed. Time for a complete retraction & apology?” Nafeez Ahmed, seeing the news, concluded “I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Quilliam are on the run, effectively acknowledging the validity of the critique”.
But, as one commentator pointed out, “What good will an apology do? They've inflamed their target audience and stoked hatred, simply apologising for their ‘error’ will be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. It's just a pity they can't be prosecuted”. The “84%” claim has stained public discourse and will need a lot of cleaning power to remove it. It has been used to embolden the Islamophobic far right.
Quilliam have effectively poured petrol all over the building, then after it has burned down, sniggered quietly “yeah that was wrong” and walked away. That’s not good enough.
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