Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

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

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