Charity Rights Watch (UK) has issued judicial review proceedings challenging the Home Secretary’s appointment of Lord Carlile as the Independent Reviewer of Prevent and what it described as “overly confined” terms of reference.
Law firm Leigh Day, which is acting on behalf of Rights Watch (UK), said it had sent three successive pre-action protocol letters to the Government raising the charity’s concerns but no satisfactory response had been received.
Rights Watch (UK) claimed that Lord Carlile could not be truly independent, having overseen the Government's first review of Prevent in 2011, and having sat on the Prevent Oversight Board in recent years.
The charity has also criticised the terms of reference for limiting the review to present and future delivery of Prevent, “removing any investigation into the past delivery of the strategy and its impacts on human rights”.
It argued that rather than achieving the kind of review Parliament intended, the Terms of Reference “appear to thwart the achievement of that review”.
Yasmine Ahmed, the director of Rights Watch (UK), said: “This is the last step available to us to try and ensure this review is genuinely robust and delivers on what Parliament wanted – an independent and impartial review.
"Rights Watch (UK) and others have repeatedly called on the Government to reconsider Lord Carlile's appointment, and like the concerns we have raised about the impact of the strategy, these have had no effect. The Government has made clear that it does not intend to comply with the statutory purpose of the review.”
Ahmed added that the litigation was the last means to try and challenge the Government’s approach and to ensure the review was “more than just a rubber-stamping exercise”.
Tom Short from Leigh Day, who together with Carolin Ott, represents Rights Watch (UK) said: “Our client had hoped that the Government would listen to its concerns and revise its approach to this review. Given the absence of a satisfactory response, our client has issued proceedings in the High Court.”