{mosimage}Edinburgh Evening News, By Struan Stevenson MEP: The Government's announcement that it does not accept a British appeal court ruling about the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran is shameful.

Edinburgh Evening News


{mosimage}THE Government's announcement that it does not accept a British appeal court ruling about the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran is shameful.

By labelling the PMOI as a terrorist organisation, it has defied the rule of law and delayed democratic change in Iran, greatly damaging the West's strategic interests. The European Union Council of Ministers also put the PMOI on its list of terrorist organisations in 2002 at the request of the British Government.

Four years later, the Court of First Instance of the European Communities annulled the decision but, at the request of the British Government, the EU Council chose not to implement the ruling and was able to maintain the PMOI on its terrorist list. Now, following a complaint made by cross-party MPs and peers, the British courts have gone into the details of the case and ruled that the Government's decision to maintain the PMOI on the UK list of proscribed organisations was unfounded and "perverse".

This ruling should compel the EU Council to apologise for its wrong and arbitrary decisions in recent years against the PMOI, and compensate this group for the financial and moral damages it has suffered. But the Government did not accept the decision and appealed it.

As Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw often visited Tehran, but the deals he struck with the fascist Mullahs left an indelible stain on Britain's character. Straw admitted he placed the PMOI on the UK terror list at the direct request of the mullahs, who greatly fear the ability of this popular opposition movement to topple their odious regime. The mullahs pressed Straw to place the PMOI on the EU's terror list, threatening commercial penalties for UK interests in Iran if he refused to comply. Straw readily concurred.

Lawyers acting for the 35 MPs and peers who lodged the appeal with the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) demanded sight of all the so-called "classified" evidence on which the UK Government had heaped its spurious claims of terrorism on the PMOI. Hundreds of pages of carefully censored files were duly released to the courts. Amazingly, some of the so-called independent evidence which claimed the PMOI were engaged in terrorist activities came from two individuals who are well-known as agents of Tehran.

The PMOI has continued over many years to try to clear its name. The fact that it has resorted to all judicial and political options open to it demonstrates the capacity of this movement in the art of leadership and is a good indicator of its capacity at coalition building to bring about democratic change in Iran.

Struan Stevenson is a Conservative Euro MP for Scotland. He is vice president of the ruling EPP-ED group of MEPs in the European Parliament and is co-chair of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup of MEPs.