Clegg questioned on Liberal Democrat action over David Ward

By Jennifer Lipman, February 12, 2013

Nick Clegg failed to confirm what if any action would be taken by his party against MP David Ward over his string of remarks about the Jews, the Jewish community and Israel.

The Deputy Prime Minister, questioned in parliament about the Bradford East MP's conduct, said: "Everybody is duty bound to choose their words carefully and tread carefully when entering into this very heated debate."

But asked by Conservative MP Robert Halfon whether he would "take action against those MPs who use the conflict in Israel to make inflammatory comments about Jews", Mr Clegg stopped short of confirming any further disciplinary action against Mr Ward.

"I am unambiguous in my condemnation of anyone from whatever party including my own who uses insensitive, intemperate, provocative and offensive language to describe a long running conflict about which people have very strong feelings," he said.

Mr Ward was summoned for a second meeting with his party's chief whip, Alistair Carmichael, on Monday evening, having followed up allegations about "the Jews" failing to learn the lessons of the Holocaust with the suggestion that he replace the phrase with "the Jewish community".

Last week, Mr Carmichael pledged that these comments would be "dealt with as a fresh issue" – the MP already having been formally censured for his initial comments.

Mr Halfon also claimed that the Liberal Democrat party was "getting a reputation, sadly among some of its senior members for being hostile to Jewish people".

Mr Ward has been unrepentant, writing on Twitter yesterday that "it is important to ask the question" about whether Israel's behaviour was "because of the Holocaust". He has also received support from prominent Israel critic Noam Chomsky.

Last updated: 3:16pm, February 12 2013