Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Islamicist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, was put up in the five star Ceylan InterContinental Hotel for a two day conference paid for by the Governemnt.

The controversial cleric made headlines in 2004 when he came to London as a guest of Ken Livingstone, who was then heavily criticised by gay rights campaigners and Jewish organisations for inviting him.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is known to have supported suicide bombings in Israel, the oppression of women’s rights and has argued in the past that homosexuals should be put to death.

Yusuf al-Quaradawi addressed the conference and also met Frances Guy, the senior civil servant with responsibility for the Foreign Office’s “Engaging with the Islamic World Group”.

Despite Tony Blair’s specific condemnation against the Muslim Brotherhood after the July 7 bombings, a FCO spokesman defended the decision by describing him as “one of the leading Muslim scholars in the world”.

The spokesman added “It is our view that you have got to engage in discussion with individuals with whom you don’t necessarily agree.”