UK government

Some of the MPs in the expenses-scandal firing line

May 21, 2009

Leeds North East Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, named this week in the Westminster expenses scandal, has denied misuse of taxpayers’ money and pledged to stand again at the next election.

The Daily Telegraph said he had claimed the maximum amount on his second home in three of the last four years, totalling £87,349, and that he had designated his family home in Leeds as his second home while living at his mother’s house in Willesden, north west London, until she died in 2005.

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Tebbit attacked over call to boycott main parties

By Leon Symons, May 21, 2009

A call by Lord Tebbit for voters to boycott the main political parties in the forthcoming European elections as punishment for the MPs’ expenses scandal has been strongly attacked this week.

Ben Barkow, director of the Wiener Library, Britain’s leading Holocaust archive, said: “There are great dangers in what he said. One can see from other European countries like Austria, where far-right parties have become involved in mainstream politics, which has been bad for the country.”

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Minister warns of Euro-poll hate

By Leon Symons, May 14, 2009

A government minister has warned that a lasting legacy of racial hatred could result from campaigning by far-right candidates in next month’s European elections.

Communities Minister Sadiq Khan said that the effect of literature produced by far-right parties, including the British National Party, could continue after the elections on June 4.

“The Jewish community will need to keep a very close eye on literature that could be antisemitic because it will be written in a very clever and cunning way,” said Mr Khan.

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Equality Bill will help us

By Leon Symons, April 30, 2009

The government’s new Equality Bill, which received its first reading this week, will finally put an end to the problem of students being forced to sit examinations on Shabbat or festival days.

It will also mean that observant Jews will be able to leave early for Shabbat and take festivals off without taking them out of their holiday allowance — and without fear of discrimination by their employer.

The new legislation also bars discrimination in private members’ clubs, so Jews and their guests cannot be refused entry or access to a bar.

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Fury over taxpayer cash for Hizbollah seminar

By Marcus Dysch, April 16, 2009

The government spent more than £20,000 of taxpayers’ money sending civil servants on a course at which Hizbollah’s media relations officer was due to be a keynote speaker. In the event, Ibrahim Moussawi was barred from entering Britain by the Home Office.

Details released to the JC under Freedom of Information legislation reveal that the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development each had five representatives at the Political Islam seminar, held last month at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

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Government quells fears over boycott

By Leon Symons, April 2, 2009

A special meeting to discuss the guidelines for the labelling of products from the West Bank was held in the Cabinet Office on Tuesday.

It involved representatives of food retailers, producers and suppliers and the British Retail Consortium, alongside civil servants from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Foreign Office, HM Revenue and Customs and one non-governmental organisation (NGO), Oxfam.

But it seemed that fears of a “back-door” boycott of Israeli goods through the labelling of products from the West Bank may have receded.

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Ministers’ ‘U-turn on war-crime law’

By Anshel Pfeffer and Marcus Dysch, March 26, 2009

Senior Israeli officials have attacked the British government for reneging on its promise to change a law that allows private citizens to bring war crimes charges against Israeli officers.

The failure to alter the legislation effectively bars Israeli top brass from entering Britain for fear they would be arrested on arrival.

“Both the Blair and Brown governments promised us that they would bring the necessary legislation to Parliament,” said a senior Israeli diplomat. “But it is clear now that they never really meant to fulfil that promise.”

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Moussawi is out - but could reapply

By Marcus Dysch, March 19, 2009

An intense lobbying campaign by Jewish organisations has succeeded with the Home Office rejecting a visa application from Hizbollah media relations officer Ibrahim Moussawi.

Under increasing pressure from the Board of Deputies, the Community Security Trust and the JC, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith turned down his request to attend a seminar at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies next week.

Jon Benjamin, Board chief executive, said the result was being treated as a substantial victory.

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Amnesty U-turn over Gaza weapons

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2009

Amnesty International has admitted it has no proof that British weapons were used by the Israeli army during the Gaza conflict.

The human rights organisation had last month accused the UK government of “aiding Israeli war crimes”, and called for a UN arms embargo.

But on Wednesday, Oliver Sprague, the charity’s arms programme director, appeared in front of a parliamentary select committee session on arms export controls.

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Live: House of Lords debate on Gaza

February 6, 2009

The House of Lords is today holding a debate on developments in Gaza.

Around 35 peers are listed to speak, with each allotted 10 minutes to give their views on last month’s conflict, and the possibilities for peace in the region.