- Created: Tuesday, 13 November 2018 11:58
- Written by FRFI
On 21 September Zionists in Camden attempted to stop a public meeting called by FRFI in support of the Palestinian struggle. Using the newly-accepted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, the Zionists persuaded the King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, who manage the hall on behalf of Camden Labour Council, that the meeting would be anti-Semitic. Widespread support for FRFI’s right to hold the meeting stopped the Zionists in their tracks (see Victory in fight against censorship of our London meeting on Palestine), but attempts to sabotage and intimidate the meeting did not stop there. Camden Council sent Prevent spies to the meeting to gather information and to monitor for anti-Semitism.
As a result, FRFI demanded that Camden Council account for its actions and submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for information about the decision to send spies to the meeting. On 8 November, Camden Labour Council refused this request on the ground that background information on the taking of this decision might interfere with their future spying ventures.
Camden’s refusal of the FOI request was justified under Section 36 (2) B and C of Freedom of Information Act 2000. This exemption allows public bodies to refuse to release information which is deemed ‘prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs’. Camden states that discussion included ‘frank’ advice from a ‘number of sources’. If this information were made public, Camden argues, such a frank exchange would not be possible in future. Camden claims that ‘the use of public buildings by those expressing extremist views’ is ‘a matter of significant public interest’, but it argues that this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that frank discussion is had behind closed doors about such meetings. Camden’s claim that our meeting was expressing ‘extremist’ views shows the impact the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and its adoption by the Labour Party are being allowed to have. FRFI has a long history of anti-racist campaigning in Camden and deplores this attempt to brand our views and activities as ‘extremist’.
FRFI is appealing against the refusal of the FOI request, and will continue to campaign against Camden Council’s use of spies to police free speech on Palestine. We call on all our supporters to complain to Camden Council about their refusal of this FOI request, their use of spies, and their use of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism to deny free speech.
Defend free speech on Palestine!
Zionism is racism!
Contact Camden Council:
5 Pancras Square
Telephone: 020 7974 4444