Dismissed Muslim charity boss on the comeback trail

Othman Moqbel has been pictured with prominent MPs including Alok Sharma, Jeremy Corbyn and Andrew Mitchell

Othman Mobel meeting with Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West & Secretary of State for BEIS. Courtesy: Twitter
This is the third article in an exclusive three-part series. Part one reveals the extremist sympathies of staff at Islamic Relief Worldwide, and part two unveils the intense regulatory scrutiny facing the UK's Muslim charity sector.

The man now at the helm of the UK’s largest Syrian aid group has been repeatedly pictured at high-level meetings, and with prominent politicians, since his dismissal from British Muslim charity Human Appeal.

In January this year Othman Moqbel, chief executive of Syria Relief in Manchester, withdrew a grievance procedure against his former employer following his departure after eight years.

The former chief executive was suspended from his job in late 2017 and dismissed a few months later.

In December 2017, the charity referred itself to the Charity Commission, which launched a statutory inquiry.

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I have always insisted on the utmost transparency in our work

Greater Manchester Police told The National  that it had closed a criminal inquiry into the activity at the charity but pending the outcome of the Charity Commission's report it could still take action.

Mr Moqbel issued a statement after his departure: “I have always taken my responsibilities to our donors, staff and beneficiaries extremely seriously and to suggest otherwise is not only utterly wrong, it is also deeply hurtful.

“I have always insisted on the utmost transparency in our work.”

He is a prominent figure in the UK charity scene. He has attended major political party conferences and met leading ministers and opposition members.

Last year he posted a picture of himself on Twitter with former secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, who is now Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Mr Sharma refused to comment on the meeting and his former department has not responded to queries about the meeting.

Mr Moqbel tweeted that the pair enjoyed a positive encounter on the sidelines of the annual Conservative Party conference.

“I had a good meeting with Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for International Development, about how DFID can do more for Syrian [internally displaced people] and to make sure the unravelling Syrian crisis is still on the government agenda,” he tweeted from the conference.

It marked a reversal in fortunes. In 2015 the Conservatives barred Mr Moqbel from speaking at their party conference.

A week before meeting Mr Sharma, he had attended the Labour Party conference in September and was photographed with former opposition party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn appeared to be having a cup of tea as he chatted with Mr Moqbel.

"Our chief executive Othman Moqbel talking to Jeremy Corbyn about the findings of our report into the impact of air strikes on Syrian schools," the charity tweeted.

The charity has held high-profile fundraisers and meetings that have featured MPs active on the humanitarian plight of Syria, which has been racked by nine years of civil war.

They included the former development secretary, Andrew Mitchell.

Mr Moqbel has also been prominent among those attending Syria-related events on conflict resolution and reconstruction, including the landmark Brussels III forum last year.

While working for Human Appeal, Mr Moqbel was also a trustee and treasurer of the Muslim Charities Forum, until he resigned in May 2018.

The UK government withdrew a contract from the MCF in 2014 over concerns about some of its member groups had hosted hate preachers.