A secret organization accused of collaborating with far-right activists has operated outside the House of Lords for over a decade, a cache of leaked documents suggests.
The organisation, called the New Issues Group (NIG), includes former UKIP leader Malcolm Pearson and former Conservative Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords Baroness Cox.
The stash of documents, acquired by the anti-fascist group Hope not Hate, even suggests that a figure who would become one of the UK’s most notorious anti-Muslim activists crafted questions to be asked in the House of Lords by members of the group.
Joe Mulhall, director of research at Hope not Hate, described the secret organization’s existence as “pretty terrifying”. He added: “Our investigation found members of the House of Lords collaborating with far-right Islamophobes.”
Confirming the group’s existence, Cox denied that the NIG was anti-Muslim, saying it “certainly not” could be described that way.
Rather, she said, it was a “gathering of people who support the aims of my bill,” referring to a private bill first introduced in 2011 that aims to protect Muslim women in Britain. Britain of sharia law. “I have strong support from Muslim women,” she added.
Pearson added: “It would be wrong to describe it (the NIG) as anti-Muslim. His main purpose was and is to support Baroness Cox’s bill”.
One of the ways the documents indicate the group may have tried to influence parliament was by writing questions to be asked in the House of Lords. Minutes from a November 2013 meeting indicate that Anne Marie Waters – who in 2016 set up the UK branch of the anti-Islamic group Pegida with Tommy Robinson – “was asked if she would help draft a question for Caroline Cox to ask in the House of Lords” . Cox declined to comment when asked about Waters’ apparent involvement.
In March 2016, the minutes state that: “Following the February NIG meeting, the MP (Malcolm Pearson) tabled a series of written parliamentary questions” which covered sharia funding, grooming in Rotherham and counter-extremism strategy .
Pearson said he drafted all the questions himself, dismissed any suggestions of NIG interference and said the topics raised were “important”.
Another NIG member was Alan Craig, a former Ukip spokesman who launched the far-right group Hearts of Oak in 2020. His online “guests” include Tommy Robinson, founder of the anti-Muslim English Defense League (EDL). Craig has denied being far-right, describing himself as a “social conservative by conviction”.
Among the documents is a 2015 “memo” created by another NIG member, Magnus Nielsen – a well-known anti-Muslim activist with ties to the EDL – that outlined a proposal to launch a street protest organization.
Mulhall said NIG members were repeatedly reminded of the importance of strict secrecy, which explains why no details about its existence have emerged so far and why it has no digital footprint.
Founded in 2012, the group met in January of this year. Its existence came about after Pearson sent an email to 235 people, but – instead of sending them a bcc – he accidentally sent it so everyone could see the entire list.
Among a host of Conservative Party MPs, aristocrats, bishops, businessmen and journalists were prominent far-right figures, including Holland’s Geert Wilders, Tommy Robinson and US anti-Islamic activist Pamela Geller, who was banned from enter the UK in 2013. .
Pearson’s email stated: “Islam is a vast subject. But if we try to discuss it in public, we are accused of Islamophobia. Our MPs are too scared of the growing Muslim vote to discuss it. Several of my colleagues scoffed when I raised it in the House of Lords.
When asked about the email, Pearson said it was about “Islamism, political Islamism and radical Islamism, which I think we should be allowed to discuss without being labeled Islamophobic.”