Misleading Guardian report on UK government funding to help secure Jewish schools (Updated)

The Community Security Trust (CST) is an organization which provides physical security, training and advice for the protection of British Jews; assists victims of antisemitism and monitors antisemitic activities and incidents in the UK. 

CST recently noted that “the Guardian has chosen to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by attacking the funding provided by the government to pay for security guarding at Jewish state schools in England and Wales.”

A Guardian report by Rob Evans titled “Michael Grove criticized for awarding public funds to organization he advised“, Jan. 27, cited criticism by the group Spinwatch that “Michael Gove, the education secretary, awarded £2m of public money to an organisation that he promoted as an adviser for four years”.

As CST noted on their site, “The Guardian story is misleading as it suggests that the money provided by the Department for Education pays for CST to provide security at Jewish schools…[while] the funds are “merely administered by CST and distributed in full to the Jewish schools who then use it to employ their own security guards” (not from CST).  

CST added further:

“[CST] does not keep any of the grant money and there is no allowance made for CST’s staff time in administering the funds to each school. In the end the project actually costs CST money, the exact opposite of the impression given by the Guardian.  If the Guardian had contacted CST for comment before running the story, we could have explained all of this to them.”

Moreover, the funding from the UK Department of Education only accounts for a fraction of the total costs associated with the CST’s work to secure over 300 synagogues, over 120 Jewish schools, more than 1000 Jewish communal organisations and buildings; and nearly 1000 communal events, from antisemitic attacks and potential acts of terrorism.

Further, CST noted, “the overwhelming bulk of CST’s funding is provided by voluntary donations from the UK Jewish community”.

In 2010, there were 639 reported incidents of antisemitism in the UK, the second highest since the CST began keeping records in 1984, which included 58 incidents targeting Jewish schools, students, or teachers.

UPDATE 1: After a complaint from CST, the Guardian has now added a paragraph near the end of their article which reads:

“All the money is distributed by the trust to the schools which then employ the security guards. As the trust’s role is essentially administrative, none of the money is retained by the trust or pays for any of the trust’s work.”

However, the acknowledgement that the grant does not pay for CST’s work isn’t reflected in the headline or opening paragraph of the article, which have not been amended.

UPDATE 2: Harry’s Place has some fascinating information on the background of David Miller, the Spinwatch official who brought the complaint to the Guardian’s attention in the first place. Seems like the crusader for ethics and transparency has a soft spot for antisemites. (See here.) 

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