British Council official in anti-Muslim row

Muslim groups and individuals have flooded the British Council with complaints after learning that one of its senior press officers allegedly wrote controversial Sunday Telegraph articles attacking “the black heart of Islam”.

The government-funded body, which recently commissioned a handbook on Islam “to prevent ignorant comments about Muslims being made in [the] national press”, has suspended Harry Cummins while it investigates the claims, which were first disclosed in the Guardian Diary.

He denies writing the articles, which have prompted calls for the Press Complaints Commission to intervene. They appeared under the byline “Will Cummins”, which the Sunday Telegraph later described as a pseudonym.

Muslim organisations say the comment pieces incite racial and religious hatred, and the British Council describes the articles as deeply offensive.

But the Sunday Telegraph has refused to rule out publishing further contributions from the author of the articles. Its editor, Dominic Lawson, told the Guardian that he did not regret printing them.

Guardian, 6 August 2004