Revealed: Civil service ‘diversity tsar’ campaigned for Galloway

Mohammed Shafiq gave speech alongside Gaza George ahead of by-election


A civil service “Diversity Lead” campaigned for George Galloway at the Rochdale by-election, the JC can reveal.

Mohammed Shafiq, who is also on the national executive of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), stood alongside the firebrand politician before a sea of Palestinian flags and urged voters to “stand for humanity, stand for Palestine, stand for George Galloway”.

The Department for Work and Pensions, where Shafiq is a “Diversity and Inclusion Lead”, says it is investigating “urgently”.

The JC can also disclose that behind the two men was Shanaz Saddique, a key Galloway campaigner who was filmed describing Rishi Sunak’s speech on the dangers of extremism last week as the “doing of Satan”.

Writing for the JC, Andrew Percy MP said: “I struggle to comprehend how any Jewish [civil service] employee would approach any such individual for protection in the workplace.” Percy raised concerns about Shafiq with the civil service two weeks ago, the JC understands.

After Galloway’s by-election victory last week, the Board of Deputies described him as “a demagogue and conspiracy theorist, who has brought the politics of division and hate to every place he has ever stood for Parliament”.

Reacting to Shafiq’s support for Galloway, Lord Walney, the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, told the JC: “These actions seem shockingly at odds with the government’s aims on diversity and inclusion that the employee supposedly champions. I hope the department will urgently investigate.”

The JC has learned that two weeks ago Conservative MP Andrew Percy raised “at a senior level in the DWP” a possible contradiction between Shafiq’s role as Diversity and Inclusion Lead and his description of himself on social media as an “activist, journalist and campaigner” and “activist, humanitarian and campaigner”.

The civil service code states that staff must “act in a way which deserves and retains the confidence of ministers” and continues: “You must not take part in any political or public activity which compromises, or might be seen to compromise, your impartial service to the government of the day.”

Last Friday, prime minister Rishi Sunak described the election of Galloway as “beyond alarming”, raising questions about Shafiq’s adherence to the code.

Shafiq told the JC: “I was attending that rally as a member of PCS Union National Executive Committee and not as a civil servant.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “There are rules in place to ensure strict impartiality as set out in the Civil Service Code. We are looking into this matter urgently.”

A Board of Deputies spokesman told the JC: “It is deeply disturbing that a Diversity and Inclusion Lead at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) should be publicly campaigning for a parliamentary candidate. It is even more egregious that someone in this sensitive role should be advocating for such a divisive character as George Galloway. The DWP must investigate immediately.” The JC understands that plans have been drawn up to hold antisemitism training at the DWP but that these have stalled.

Shafiq is currently running for election as vice president of PCS Union’s largest group, the DWP Group. In his campaign manifesto he boasts that he has “led our work in advocating for Palestine and speaking out against the horrific scenes from Gaza where we have seen so much destruction”.

He has been a frequent commentator on TV and radio as CEO of the Ramadhan Foundation, which describes itself as “a leading Muslim organisation…that is working for peaceful co-existence and dialogue for all communities.” He currently presents a regular discussion programme on British Muslim TV.

Last Saturday Shafiq was due to have spoken at a Stop the War (StW) conference, “The World at War: A Trade Union Issue”, along with StW founding member Lindsey German, former Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray and Daniel Kebede, National Education Union General Secretary. In 2021, Kebede appeared at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) rally in Newcastle where he said that it was “time to stand together and oppose apartheid, oppose occupation and fight for Palestinian liberation,” before going on to proclaim: “Let’s do it for Palestine, Ramallah, West Bank, Gaza ­— it’s about time we globalise the intifada.”

Saturday’s conference was eventually postponed.

In his speech outside 10 Downing Street last Friday, the prime minister spoke of a “shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality. What started as protests on our streets, has descended into intimidation, threats, and planned acts of violence… it is beyond alarming that last night the Rochdale by election returned a candidate who dismisses the horror of what happened on October 7, who glorifies Hezbollah and is endorsed by Nick Griffin, the racist former leader of the BNP.”

He said that “our great achievement in building the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi faith democracy is being deliberately undermined. There are forces here at home trying to tear us apart.

“Since October 7 there have been those trying to take advantage of the very human angst that we all feel about the terrible suffering that war brings to the innocent, to women and children to advance a divisive, hateful ideological agenda.

“On too many occasions recently, our streets have been hijacked by small groups who are hostile to our values and have no respect for our democratic traditions.” The prime minister’s speech followed criticism of the government’s approach by Sir William Shawcross, whose review of the Prevent counter-terror scheme was published last year with a number of recommendations.

Sir William said ministers had “ignored” some of his key recommendations, and added: “I am extremely concerned at the lack of progress on some of my key recommendations. This lack of progress places the public in greater danger.”

Galloway’s team was contacted for comment. Saddique denied being a key member of his campaign team.

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