David Ward needs immediate discipline, Lib Dem Friends of Israel tell Clegg

By Marcus Dysch, February 28, 2013

Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel have thrown into doubt plans for MP David Ward's rehabilitation after referring the case back to party leaders with a recommendation for "further disciplinary action".

LDFI chair Gavin Stollar wrote to Nick Clegg, deputy leader Simon Hughes and chief whip Alistair Carmichael on Thursday afternoon following Mr Ward's failure to remove offensive comments from his website.

Mr Clegg had demanded Mr Ward meet members of the party's pro-Israel group and remove from his website allegations that "the Jews" had failed to properly learn the lessons of the Holocaust.

But the Bradford East MP is yet to delete the piece from his website, prompting Mr Stollar to apparently immediately terminate the plans for a meeting with Mr Ward.

Mr Stollar wrote: "I regret to inform you that despite assurances to the contrary, the offending statement is still live on David Ward's website (three days after you were given assurances of its removal and over a month since it was first made).

"I think this demonstrates in no uncertain terms David Ward's genuine views despite, I know, your best efforts to explain why the language and timing of his statement were so offensive and repugnant.

"Ward has thus failed to comply with the undertakings he gave you. In those circumstances LDFI must refer the matter back to you with a strong recommendation of further disciplinary action."

The Lib Dems are yet to respond to Mr Stollar's email. The LDFI chair confirmed that the message to Mr Clegg in effect ended the prospect of them holding a meeting with Mr Ward.

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark and Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin had attacked Mr Clegg's choice of punishment for Mr Ward, calling it a "fig leaf".

They accused the Lib Dem leader of "expressing concern to communal leaders about antisemitism in private, but failing to step up and confront it in public. We cannot accept that scenario".

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said the situation had been "mishandled" and warned that "Holocaust equivocation and antisemitism are not being taken seriously".

Last updated: 6:17pm, February 28 2013