4. Supplementary memorandum submitted
by the Home Office
Thank you for your letter of 6 December about
the allegations made by a representative of the Sikh Community
Action Network (SCAN) regarding Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activity
at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden.
The Mandir in the past has attracted various
international political and royal figures, including the Prime
Minister and Jack Straw (as Home Secretary in August 2000) and
most recently Fiona Mactaggart in October 2004. Home Office officials
have visited in 2002 and 2003.
The Mandir also provides a base for the Swaminarayan
Hindu Mission. The Mission is a member of the Inter Faith Network
and makes an important contribution to the promotion of interfaith
relations in the UK.
The VHP is an international Hindu Nationalist
organization, most prominent in India but also involved in various
activities with British Hindus through the VHP (UK), which is
a registered charity. The VHP is not proscribed in the UK, although
the Police keep the activities of any organizations accused of
extremist activity under close scrutiny and any evidence of illegality
under the Terrorism Act 2000 is always thoroughly investigated.
I am always very concerned by allegations of
extremist activity within religious institutions such as the Neasden
Mandir and would expect any such allegations to be thoroughly
investigated by Police and intelligence agencies. However, operational
decisions about how to respond to complaints of this nature are
ultimately the responsibility of the Chief Constable of the relevant
Police force. If SCAN has any evidence that there is terrorist
activity or support for it being carried out in the Neasden Mandir
they should report it to the Metropolitan Police Service.
Contrary to the comments made by the representatives
of SCAN, I am not aware that these allegations have ever been
raised with the Home Office.
Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Home Secretary
11 January 2005