I WRITE in response to an article headlined “MEPs call for probe into ‘dark money’ from US evangelicals” (March 29). In the article, the organisation that I work for, ADF International, was labelled a “hate group” in the context of assisting a pro-life student group. The students were seeking to challenge an unlawful decision by Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council which had barred them from affiliating with the university.

In the first instance, I was disappointed to see that the author had uncritically adopted the “hate group” label provided by the US-based and disgraced Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC). Not only has it recently fired its founder and president amidst appalling claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism within the organisation, but it has been heavily criticised from across the political spectrum. For instance, Politico notes the long-standing criticism that SPLC is “becoming more of a partisan progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog”. It is disappointing that any self-respecting publication would copy and paste propaganda from such a widely discredited activist group and present it as honest journalism.

Secondly, it is concerning that the author simply resorted to guessing what assistance we had provided to the group instead of contacting us. It is poor journalism to present conjecture as fact.

Thirdly, the primary source for the story appears to be an article published by Open Democracy. This organisation published an article which described funds raised by organisations with which they disagree in the US as “dark money”. The irony is that their own accounts show that they are recipients of remarkably large sums of money from the US themselves, not least from organisations closely linked to activist billionaire George Soros.

We receive donations from individuals all around the world – including in the US – who deeply care about the work that we do protecting fundamental freedoms and promoting inherent dignity for all people globally. They want to support groups like the pro-life students who succeeded in their challenge, and whose unlawful treatment should have been the focus of your story.

As for Alyn Smith MEP’s rather agitated reaction to Open Democracy’s “investigation”, I’m sure he will have learned from his recent run-in with the Brexit Party that it is very ill-advised to make claims that cannot be supported with evidence. Being strong believers in robust freedom of speech, we’ll probably just opt to disagree with him in this instance.

Laurence Wilkinson
Legal Counsel, ADF International

THE House of Commons heard a debate yesterday on the workings of the Department of Work & Pensions, which commands the biggest spend of any government department. The work of the DWP supports so many individuals and families and this debate rightly called for reforms to assist the vulnerable, those in real need.

During this debate the plight of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women was highlighted for the umpteenth time in the House of Commons, and despite the government’s wishes those women are not going away. In fact WASPI have recently had their day in court and await the result of a judicial review on the government’s handling of the rise in their state pension age. Also during this debate the Scottish Government was praised for fast-tracking a new benefit, the Scotland Child Payment, a payment of £10/wk per child in low income families, assisting in tackling child poverty.

We live in a country that is witnessing increased use of food banks (1.6 million parcels handed out in the last year), a four-year freeze on benefits, the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit, in-work poverty rising daily, pensioner poverty ... a terrible reflection on the government’s policies all tell us reforms are needed and needed urgently.

What a pity the House of Commons during such a crucial debate affecting millions was so sparsely attended, noting that none of the Conservative or LibDem leadership candidates were present, perhaps a reflection on just how much MPs are out of touch.

Catriona C Clark