INTERPAL - the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund – had given the Board 14 days to apologise before instigating legal action for defamation. So far, an apology has not been forthcoming even though the 14-day deadline has expired.

The Board ran into trouble earlier this month when it issued a press release on its website saying it had written to foreign secretary Jack Straw calling on Hamas, INTERPAL and other "terrorist organisations" to be banned.

In August, INTERPAL was accused by the US of funding the radical Palestinian group Hamas.

Three days later, the British government reacted by asking the Charity Commission to launch an investigation into INTERPAL’s activities, during which time the charity’s assets were frozen.

INTERPAL was given a clean bill of health on Wednesday.

Vindication

“In a climate where such public vindication has been given by authorities it would be surprising if a private body sought to establish anything different,” said Cameron Doley, a defamation specialist and partner at much feared British law firm Carter-Ruck. He is representing INTERPAL.

“They have made proposals that I will be considering with my client. If those proposals result in a settlement. This would then be made public,” Doley added.

Ibrahim Hewitt, chairman of INTERPAL’s board of trustees, dismissed the US allegations in August. He took aim at the British government and said he was dismayed Britain had folded under US pressure to launch a politically motivated crackdown.

"They haven’t yet formally apologised," Interpal chairman Ibrahim Hewitt told Aljazeera.net.

"The lawyer has said they are prepared to (apologise) though the wording has yet to be agreed.

“INTERPAL is a politically neutral, British charity that the Charity Commission has recognised in the past as having no links to any terrorist groups,” added Hewitt.

Cleared
 
“As a British citizen, I’m appalled our government appears to have surrendered its sovereignty on issues such as this,” he said.

After this week's decision Hewitt said “Once again, allegations of misuse of funds against INTERPAL based, apparently, on unsubstantiated media reports and not solid intelligence, have been discredited.”

INTERPAL was first targeted for investigation in 1996, when its accounts were frozen after Israel accused the charity of funnelling cash to Hamas. But a two-month inquiry by the UK charity watchdog cleared it of any wrongdoing.

The British Jewish Board of Deputies declined to comment on this latest development to Aljazeera.net.

INTERPAL was created in 1994 and donates packs for school children, food parcels and is involved in sponsorship schemes.