Blood libel cleric Raed Salah was wronged, says Baroness Tonge

Blood libel cleric Raed Salah should be invited to London to take part in a peace conference for Israelis and Palestinians, a House of Lords debate has heard.

The suggestion was made by former Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge, who said inviting Sheikh Salah could “make amends for the appalling way [he] was treated, on the advice of the Community Security Trust alone, when he came on a lecture tour in this country”.

Sheikh Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, won an appeal against the Home Office’s plan to deport him from Britain last April, despite judges ruling that he had given a sermon in which he invoked the antisemitic blood libel.

At the centre of his defence was his denial that in a 2007 sermon in east Jerusalem, his remarks on children’s blood being used to bake “holy bread” were references to the blood libel against Jews.

Tribunal judges ruled that his claims were “wholly unpersuasive”, but said Home Secretary May had been “misled” and had shown “disproportionate interference” when attempting to ban him.

Baroness Tonge, who was forced to leave the Lib Dems over comments she made about Israel, told the Lords her proposal was “fairly unusual”.

She said the government should plan peace talks and invite groups from the UK Jewish and Palestinian communities, as well as Sheikh Salah.

Cross-bencher Baroness Deech warned of the difficulty British groups have in contributing to peace efforts because, “in the view of some, antisemitic language has entered the mainstream of political discourse here”.

Last updated: 8:45pm, February 14 2013