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lnternational Witness Campaign: Remembering 20 years of the failed War on Terror

 26 August 2021

 [EMBARGOED Tuesday 31st August 00:01 GMT]


 Outline:                                                                                                                                       2

Campaign mission:                                                                                                                   2

Unique aspects of the campaign:                                                                                           3

Key dates of the campaign:                                                                                                     3

About the War on Terror:                                                                                                        4

Key dates of the War on Terror:                                                                                             4

Key figures of the failed War on Terror:                                                                                5

List of partners:                                                                                                                         5

On offer:                                                                                                                                   12

Contact details:                                                                                                                       12


In 2001, US president G.W Bush announced the launch of a “crusade”. Since then, we have witnessed 20 years of illegal wars, which have come with carpet bombings, drone assassinations, arbitrary detention, torture and mass displacement in the Muslim world.

Western democracies have also enacted countless legislations and policies targeting Muslim communities and undermining the rule of law for all.


The International Witness Campaign gathers international partners to commemorate this anniversary and remember the millions of people affected across the globe.

It explores two decades of the war on Terror, its impact, its failures and its future, while promoting solidarity, justice and dialogue.

For campaign updates visit:

Campaign mission:


  1. Acknowledgement of state sponsored crimes committed in the name of the ‘War on Terror’.


  1. Accountability for governments, agencies and individuals guilty of crimes since 2001.


  1. Restorative justice for victims and survivors of state-sponsored violence since 2001.


  1. Complete dismantlement of the infrastructure which facilitated these crimes and led to the erosion of our collective rights and freedoms, including laws, policies and practices.


Unique aspects of the campaign:

The International Witness Campaign aims to bring together the voices left out of the public conversations around the War on Terror and its impact.

  • Voices of survivors will be central to the International Witness Campaign. These will include those who have survived torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, been subjected to discriminatory counter terrorism laws and more.
  • Unheard civil society voices from an array of organisations, geographical locations and with specialist expertise.
  • Practitioners, caseworkers and grassroots organisers who have years of experience mobilising and supporting impacted communities.


The International Witness Campaign also features:


  • Global reach
  • A five month long sustained campaign.
  • Over 40 partners from more than 13 countries (listed below. We expect this number to grow after launch)
  • High impact activities including film festivals, theatre productions, conferences, unique conversations, expert reports and more.


Key dates of the campaign:


This list is a set of the most immediate featured activities and it is not exhaustive. A fuller list that is routinely updated can be found on the campaign website:

  • 31 August 2021: Worldwide launch of the International Witness Campaign and website.
  • 10 September 2021: Moazzam Begg & Asim Qureshi to give testimony at the tribunal on Afghanistan organised by the Bezna Theatre
  • 11 September 2021: Launch of publicity and announcement of speakers for the International Conference on the War on Terror.
  • 2nd October 2021: International Conference on the War on Terror.
  • October 2021: Coalition for Civil Freedoms’ International Film Festival
  • January 2022 – Commemorative event on 20 years since the first prisoners set foot in Guantanamo Bay prison.


About the War on Terror:

The term ‘War on Terror’ was first mentioned by US President George W. Bush in Congress on September 20th 2001, where he outlined his government’s response to the 9/11 attacks.

In it, he stated that “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

The War on Terror framework was realised through the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, then the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Since then the ‘War on Terror’, or Global War on Terror, has served as a framework enabling the expansion of US and NATO military aggression across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, by recasting “threats” abroad as legitimate targets for US and NATO warfare.

Despite President Obama retiring the term itself during his tenure, the War on Terror continues as a policy framework.

As a doctrine, the War on Terror is without frontiers or precisely defined goals – therefore it has been used to legitimise the endless proliferation of warzones, while also serving as justification for suffocating ‘counter-terrorism’ policies at home in the US, UK, Europe and beyond.

The continual adoption of ‘counter-terror’ and ‘counter-extremist’ policies have suffocated the space for political dissent within countries and increased powers available to police, enabling them to surveil and infiltrate political groups under the banner of countering ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ at home.

The legacy of the War on Terror is a security-centred approach to domestic and foreign policy.

In doing so, it has drastically shifted the culture of domestic and international politics, and made it harder to break from the cycle of warfare, violence and draconian policies that it helped set in motion.

The only real victors of the War on Terror have been military companies, private enterprises and surveillance companies.

Key dates of the War on Terror:

  • 20th June 2000: Terrorism Act (2000) passed (UK)
  • 11th September 2001: 9/11 attacks
  • 18th September 2001: Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF) granting the US President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorised, committed or aided” the September 11 attacks, or anyone who “harbored” such persons or groups.
  • 7th October 2001: Operation Enduring Freedom begins (invasion of Afghanistan).
  • 26th October 2001: USA PATRIOT Act passed.
  • 14th December 2001: Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act passed in the UK; this allowed for the indefinite detention of non-British citizens suspects of terrorism.
  • 11th January 2002: First detainees arrive at Guantanamo Bay.
  • 4th February 2002: First drone strike killing of the War on Terror, in Afghanistan.
  • 20th March 2003: Invasion of Iraq begins.
  • 20th November 2003: US-UK Extradition Act passed.
  • 7th July 2005: 7/7 attacks in London.
  • 22nd January 2009: Obama directive to shut Guantanamo.
  • 1st May 2011: Osama Bin Laden killed in Pakistan.
  • 22nd May 2013: Lee Rigby killed, leads to Government task force which recommends placing PREVENT on statutory basis.
  • 9th December 2014: The publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, which is quickly buried.
  • 15th March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand
  • 29 February 2020: U.S. and the Taliban sign peace treaty in Doha, Qatar.
  • 31 August/ 2021 Final US troops to leave Afghanistan.

Key figures of the failed War on Terror:


  • At least 801,000 people have been directly killed in major wars since 2001. [1]
  • Over $6.4 trillion spent on wars by the US only. [ibid]
  • 37 million people have been displaced as a result of America’s War on Terror. [2]
  • Over 134 countries have been involved.
  • Hundreds of laws have been passed internationally that are eroding civil liberties for all citizens.

Quotes from partners:

“We are proud to launch the International Witness Campaign alongside our global partners. This is a poignant moment to reflect over the devastation the War on Terror has caused over the last two decades.

All efforts to move forward must centre justice for survivors, accountability for the perpetrators and proceed with the dismantlement of the entire infrastructure of laws, policies and rhetoric that justified and prop up the War on Terror industry.”

  • Muhammad Rabbani, Managing Director of CAGE

“The War on Terror has taken place inside our borders, through internal policies, as well as on foreign soil through foreign incursions, each aspect feeding and justifying each other. We must shake off our state of denial and stand up against invisibilization and against the devastating consequences that these policies and military actions have had and still have on our communities here and abroad. This can only be done through consciousness, acknowledgment and the incessant plea for human rights justice, which is the main object of the International Witness Campaign.”

  • Aurora Ali, Director of the Muslim Association for Human Rights-AMDEH (Spain)


“The Global War on Terror was a sequel to the Cold War which had inflicted immense damage and pain on the Third World nations. Equally, it became the latest mechanism for organising and legitimising a world system of domination by the sole superpower the US and its allies. Regime change, pre-emptive strikes, full-spectrum dominance, suppressing national liberation movements  was accompanied with a cascade of terrorism laws suspending habeas corpus, house arrests, secret courts, extensive surveillance, criminalisation of migrant communities, refugees and demonisation of Muslims.  The politics of fear supported by the corporate media and the cover of national security were the drivers over the last 20 years of the war on terror when great injustices were perpetrated against innocent individuals and communities.”




“After 20 years of a global war, the consequences are devastating. The Global War on Terror quickly became a superstructure that dictated the terms and conditions for politics all over the world and will probably have effects for years to come. We have several generations who have grown up knowing this war as a status quo, as a new normal, and who understand and see themselves through the prism of both the implicit and explicit aspects of this war. This campaign becomes a testimony to these facts. It reminds the world how this war has failed completely in its supposed aims, and on the contrary has made the world more unsafe, more torn and more unstable.”


  • Amanj Aziz, founder, Nyans:Muslim (Sweden)

List of partners:


CAGE is an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free from injustice and oppression. We campaign against discriminatory state policies and advocate for due process and the rule of law. We work closely with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe, documenting their abuse and enabling them to take action and access due process. We carry out cutting edge research and provide a voice for survivors of the War on Terror, challenging the dominant narrative of suspect communities and the perceived threat of terrorism. We empower communities through educational workshops, community events and informative seminars.


2- CJL, France  @justicelibertes

The Justice & Liberties For All Committee is a French organisation for the defense of human rights and civil liberties. The CJL specialises in the fight against racism in all its forms and repression (deprivation of freedoms, mass surveillance, invasion of privacy, police brutality). Their mission is to create the necessary conditions for solidarity actions, leading to a new and fair social contract for all, by all available means.

 3- ACT P   ( ) @SafeguardChild

ACT-P was founded as a community response to protect children’s rights from violations by police and government under the guise of counter terrorism in Austria. The violations of children’s rights, which in this case, has exclusively targeted a religious minority, appear to have been the result of a state-sponsored racist and Islamophobic campaign, which is irrefutably incompatible with human rights and democratic principles. The perpetrators of this violence against Muslim citizens enjoy complete immunity.

 4- Al-Karamah ( @AlkaramaHR

Alkarama is a Geneva-based, independent human rights organisation established in 2004 to assist all those in the Arab World subjected to or at risk of extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention. Acting as a bridge between individual victims in the Arab World and international human rights mechanisms, Alkarama works towards an Arab world where all individuals live free in dignity and protected by the rule of law. In Arabic, Alkarama means “dignity”.

 5- ABOUT FACE ( @VetsAboutFace

An organisation made up of Post-9/11 service members and veterans with aims to end the foreign policy of permanent war and the use of military weapons, tactics, and values in communities across the country. As people intimately familiar with the inner workings of the world’s largest military, we use our knowledge and experiences to expose the truth about these conflicts overseas and the growing militarisation of our communities here at home.

  6- Asociación Musulmana por los Derechos Humanos @MusulmanaDDHH

AMDEH was founded in Spain in 2018 by Muslim activists and academics. It’s main mission consists of the promotion of human rights for Muslim individuals and communities in Spain, mostly through the production and dissemination of awareness material, research and translation activities, as well as through workshops and cooperation with local, national and international institutions.

 7- AMPSA South Africa

AMPSA (The Association of Muslim Professionals of South Africa) is an independent Islamic organisation to harness the expertise of our professionals, from all disciplines, in serving the dīn and the ummah solely in accordance with Shar‘i principles. It intends, moreover, to challenge all attempts at demonising Islam, to counter oppression and injustice from whatever sources, and to resist any inequities attributed to any national or international crisis.


The Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) was formed in March 2001 in response to the banning of 21 organisations under powers of the Terrorism Act 2000. The Campaign brings together human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and communities which find themselves targeted by so-called ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation. CAMPACC organises public meetings, petitions, parliamentary lobbies, submissions to parliamentary bodies, as well as protests at court hearings and prisons.


The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, we have taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Our approach is holistic, fearless, and relentless. By partnering with communities fighting for social justice and centering their struggles for liberation, we are able to transform systems, policies, and public narratives.

10- CIGA, Istanbul @cigaistanbul

The Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) is an independent, nonprofit, research and public policy institution based in Istanbul, Turkey, and affiliated with Istanbul Zaim University. Its mission is “to conduct high quality research and analysis, educate the public and policymakers, train experts, and propose novel ideas and policy recommendations regarding global policies and relations impacting the Islamic world, and the development and progress of Muslim societies.”


The Coalition for Civil Freedoms (CCF) is a survivor-led nonprofit organisation dedicated to ending the abuses of the US’s domestic War on Terror. Founded in 2010, CCF is a coalition of civil liberties and human rights organisations that challenge preemptive prosecution, as well as the post-9/11 targeting, surveillance, and criminalisation of Muslim communities.

12- CCIE, Belgium @CCIEurope

Formally known as CCIF, CCIE is a non-profit organisation based in Belgium with a mission to combat discrimination against Muslims in Europe, and provide legal support to victims of such discrimination.

13- Defence of Human Rights @dohrpk

Defence of Human Rights and Public Service trust, shortly DHR Pakistan, is an independent non-governmental, non-profit organisation that provides legal aid, and psychosocial and economic support to victims, as well as campaigning, and lobbying for policy recommendations relating to enforced disappearances in Pakistan through active engagement with stakeholders.

14- Documenting Oppression Against Muslims @doamuslims

We aim to understand how big the oppression will be upon Muslims, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) prophesied. DOAM,  which stands for Documenting Oppression Against Muslims, is a unique and online interactive website/resource documenting and visualising oppression against Muslims worldwide. Content consists of maps and searchable articles, audio and film.

15- Dokustelle, Germany @dokustelle

Dokustelle was initiated in 2014 by volunteers to render visible the manifestations of anti-Muslim racism in Austria and to provide a safe space for victims of anti-Muslim racism, particularly women. Today most activities of the Dokustelle are conducted by volunteers and consist of documentation, monitoring, frontline psychosocial support and legal advice for victims, the empowerment of racialized communities as well as advocacy.

16- War on terror | Film Festival

The “War on Terror Film Festival” is a free, open-to-the-public virtual event that will showcase award-winning films made over the past two decades critical of American policies and wars. Over the month of October, twenty films across different genres, from documentary to satirical comedy, will be screened. Each screening will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers, academics, journalists, and activists, covering issues relating to mass surveillance, the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, US drone strikes in dozens of countries, illegal detention, and more.

 17- Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) @ICVaus

The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) is the peak Muslim body representing an estimated 200,000 Muslims in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and over 60 member societies. ICV offers advocacy and social welfare services while leading state and national initiatives on cohesion and harmony through community consultations and advice to the government. It has experience in building meaningful engagements, partnerships and projects with over 70 organisations (Muslim and non-Muslim) including over 20 multifaith and multicultural groups

18- Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)  @ihrc

We work with different organisations from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, to campaign for justice for all peoples regardless of their racial, confessional or political background. Our research work includes submitting reports to governments and international organisations, writing articles, monitoring the media, cataloguing war crimes and producing research papers on hate crime, discrimination, the nature of human rights and so on.

19- IZRS, Switzerland @Islamrat

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (IZRS) represents Islamic affairs in the Swiss Confederation. This Islamic grassroots organisation exists for the coordination of Muslim individuals in Switzerland. The Islamic Central Council is a registered association based in Bern.


20- Justice for Muslim Collective @dcmuslimjustice

Justice for Muslims Collective  with a focus on the greater Washington region, and which is building a world where radical inclusion leads to collective liberation for Muslim communities and beyond.The mission of Justice for Muslims Collective is to dismantle institutional and structural Islamophobia through raising political consciousness and shifting narratives, community empowerment, organising and healing, and building alliances across movements.

21- Muslim Justice League @MuslimJustice

Muslim Justice League (MJL)’s mission is to organise and advocate for communities whose rights are threatened under the national security state in the United States. Led by Muslims, our organising brings justice for ALL communities deemed “suspect”. MJL was founded on the principles that discrimination towards any group endangers the rights of all and that Muslim advocacy is an essential force for promoting justice. MJL’s organising centers on communities heavily impacted by surveillance and policing in the US. While we focus predominantly on Massachusetts, and especially Boston, we also lead a national advocacy effort – the #StopCVE national network.

22- Justice Project Pakistan @JusticeProject_

Justice Project Pakistan is a non-profit organisation based in Lahore that represents the most vulnerable Pakistani prisoners facing the harshest punishments, at home and abroad. JPP investigates, advocates, educates, and litigates, building public and political support as well as legal precedents that will lead to systemic reform of the criminal justice system in Pakistan.

23- Khadija leadership foundation, New Zealand

Founded in October 2017 by Tayyaba Khan, the Khadija Leadership Network (KLN) aims to see the status of Muslim women in society revived along the lines of the teachings of Islam.The network was established to challenge ideas of leadership, and support women in being better leaders.

24- Le Collectif Canadien Anti-islamophobie (CCAI)

The Canadian Anti-Islamophobia Collective (CCAI) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the fight against Islamophobia in all its forms and in all spheres of society. More than just another NGO dedicated to defending the rights of a cultural and religious community in a society that seeks to be democratic and respects the rights of minorities, the CCAI is a popular movement, a cry from the hearts of committed citizens to oppose the most extremist voices in the world of media and society.


25- Lighthouse Advocacy @LighthouseNGO

Lighthouse is an advocacy organisation that serves people in oppressed and persecuted communities. We do this, not only through raising awareness, but more importantly, through pressuring those in power to end their complicity in the injustices we see around the world today. After almost a decade supporting the Syrian cause through aid work as StudentsForSyria, we have come to recognise that for long-term change, raising money alone simply isn’t enough. To bring about a meaningful end to the injustices around the world, we need to push for reform in society and in policy.

 26- Mend @mendcommunity

MEND is a not-for-profit organisation that helps to empower and encourage British Muslims within local communities to be more actively involved in British media and politics. MEND seeks to enable British Muslims to engage more effectively with political and media institutions and play a greater role in British politics and society by instilling confidence, competence and awareness.


27- Muslim Lawyers Association

The MLA is a professional, apolitical and a non-profit organisation committed to creating a community free of injustice as expounded by the Holy Quraan and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The MLA was established on the 16th of November 2007.

28- Defending Rights & Dissent @RightsDissent

 We work to make the promise of the Bill of Rights a reality for everyone in the US. Freedom to dissent is essential to a functioning democracy, and every person under U.S. jurisdiction or control is entitled to Bill of Rights protections. At all times and especially when federal, state, or local governments propose or enact laws or policies that threaten or deny those rights, the people organize, exercising those same rights in the service of protecting them. Most people understand that the country cannot be made safer by sacrificing some rights for all or part of its population. When the people know and exercise their rights, the liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights hold firm and remain self-sustaining.


The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK), is a grass roots civil liberties pressure group, setup in 2001 to encourage civil engagement within the Muslim community at all levels in the UK. Their main objective is to pro-actively campaign against Islamophobia wherever it exists in the UK and to educate and create tools for Muslim communities to become organised to do the same.

30- My Hijab, My Right

My Hijab My Right is a movement that started as a single rally in downtown Toronto, and has now become global. Our mission is to eradicate all forms of bans and limitations on Muslim women’s veils around the world, as we aim to educate, engage, and empower real action against the systems that aim to oppress Muslim women.

 31- Northern Police Monitoring Project (NPMP) @npolicemonitor

Northern Police Monitoring Project is an independent, grassroots organisation working with communities facing police harassment, brutality and racism.

 32- NYANS

Nyans is a platform for producing research and material on issues surrounding various forms of racism and in particular structural Islamophobia. It is based in Sweden and is one of the few platforms that continues its efforts despite the challenges.

 33- Palestinine Solidarity Alliance  @psa_yl

The PSA is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are a non profit organisation that runs projects and campaigns with the aim of creating awareness of the injustices and oppression suffered by the people of Palestine. We also raise funds for projects that will directly benefit the lives of those who are suffering in the occupied territories.

 34- Palestinian Youth Movement @palyouthmvmt

The Palestinian Youth Movement (“PYM”) is a transnational, independent, grassroots movement of young Palestinians in Palestine and in exile worldwide as a result of the ongoing Zionist colonisation and occupation of our homeland. PYM is a space that brings together Palestinian youth from all over North America with diverse views and various political, cultural and social backgrounds in a collective process of decision-making, leadership building, and action.

35- The Polis Project @project_polis

The Polis Project, Inc is a hybrid research and journalism organisation producing knowledge about some of the most important issues affecting us, by amplifying diverse perspectives from those indigenous to the conflicts and crisis affecting our world today.

 36- SANAD @SANAD_en

SANAD human rights organisation defends political and civil rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and monitors human rights violations and exposes them to public opinion and to human rights and international organisations. In Sanad, we seek to alleviate the suffering of detainees, closely examine the human rights situation on the ground, closely monitor it through what detainees experience in prisons, and record the statistics of human rights institutions in the required press and humanitarian frameworks.

 37- Stand with Kashmir @standwkashmir

Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a Kashmiri diaspora-driven independent, transnational, grassroots movement committed to standing in solidarity with the people of Indian occupied Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. Our mission is to advocate for an end to the Indian occupation, and the right to self-determination for the people of the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

38- The STOP LAPD SPYING COALITION  @stoplapdspying

The Campaign to Rescind Special Order is an alliance of different organisations (and, in our case, individuals), each with their own interests, mission and vision, that come together to collaborate and take collective action towards a common goal(s). We reject all forms of police oppression and any policy that makes us all suspects in the eyes of the state. Our vision is the dismantling of government-sanctioned spying and intelligence gathering, in all its multiple forms.

39- Tea Project

The Tea Project is an ongoing dialogue that traverses a variety of landscapes. From the tea sipped at a family gathering, to a cage in Guantanamo Bay, to a motor pool in Iraq, tea is not only a favored drink but a shared moment that transcends cultural divides and systems of oppression. When someone sits, sips, and reflects over a cup of tea there is space to ask questions about one’s relationship to the world: a world that is filled with dehumanisation, war, and destruction; a world that is filled with moments of beauty, love, and humanity.

40- The ShowRoom @The_Showroom_

The Showroom is a contemporary art space focused on collaborative approaches to cultural production within its locality
 and beyond. We commission and produce art and discourse, providing an engaging, collaborative programme that challenges what art can be and do for a wide range of audiences, including art professionals and our local community.

 41- The Transitional Institute (TNI) @TNInstitute

The Transnational Institute is an international research advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable planet. For more than 40 years, TNI has served as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

 42- Veterans for Peace @VFPNational

We are an organisation of military veterans and allies dedicated to exposing the true costs of war and militarism. PeaceVeterans For Peace is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and is composed of members across the country organised in chapters and working groups. There is an annual convention each year attended by our members, families and supporters from across the nation, hosted by a different VFP chapter in a different city each year

 43- Witness Against Torture @WitnessTorture

Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. Once we returned from that journey, we began to organise more broadly to shut down the prison at Guantanamo, working with interfaith, human rights and activists’ organisations. Witness Against Torture will continue its activities until torture is decisively ended, its victims are fully acknowledged, Guantánamo and similar facilities are closed, and those who ordered and committed torture are held to account.

 44- American Friends Service Committee @afsc_org

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker social justice organisation working in 24 communities in the US and 16 locations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.  We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.

On offer:

We can facilitate access for comment, interview, op-eds and any other press inquiry from our global network of partners and survivors which include:

  • Guantanamo survivors
  • Survivors of discriminatory domestic ‘terrorism’ laws in represented countries.
  • Community support practitioners.
  • Expert civil society voices.

Contact details

For more information or to explore interviews with any of the partners listed or those they represent, please contact Anas below.

We are happy to coordinate communication, or you are free to engage organisations directly.

Anas Mustapha, CAGE


Phone:             +44 207 377 6700