Labour peer Ahmed suspended over 'Jewish conspiracy' claims
Muslim leader appointed to the Lords by Blair accused of 'spreading anti-Semitic myths' about his jail term
A LABOUR peer has been suspended from the party in the wake of a report that he blamed a Jewish conspiracy for his imprisonment over dangerous driving.
Lord Ahmed, who was appointed to the Lords by Tony Blair in 1998, was jailed for 12 weeks in 2009 after being convicted of sending a text message shortly before his vehicle was involved in a fatal crash. During a TV interview in Pakistan, translated into English from Urdu by The Times, Ahmed claimed his incarceration was down to pressure put on the court by Jewish owners of newspapers and TV channels.
"My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this. They used their newspapers and TV channels in front of the courts," he said during the interview, which was thought to have been broadcast in April 2012.
The peer also falsely claimed the judge who jailed him over his role in the 2007 car crash had been appointed to the High Court after helping a "Jewish colleague" of Tony Blair's.
As LabourList notes, it's not the first time Britain's first male Muslim peer has been embroiled in controversy, with Ahmed also suspended from the party over claims he called for a £10m "bounty" for the capture of Barack Obama and George Bush in April 2012. He was soon reinstated when it was established he had been misquoted. This time around, LabourList has called for Ahmed to be "condemned and disciplined" if the allegations are proved true.
For his part, Ahmed says he has "no recollection" of the interview but The Times, which also posted a video of the interview online, says it has obtained four Urdu-to-English translations to ensure the veracity of the transcription. In an editorial, the paper accuses the 55-year-old of promoting "anti-Semitic myths" during his "shameful" outburst.
"It is tempting to dismiss Lord Ahmed's comments as pitiful rantings by an obscure politician. Unfortunately, they are worse. They express an ideology (or, more accurately, a pathology) that still disfigures discourse in some parts of the world and that animates a sub-culture of Islamist extremism," the paper writes.
For Dan Hodges, Labour has acted with "commendable swiftness" in immediately suspending Ahmed while the claims are investigated. Hodges writes in the Daily Telegraph: "Ed Miliband should be preparing to unceremoniously chuck him out of the Labour party as swiftly as possible, should the claims turn out to be true." ·