Jewish leaders reject Lord Ahmed apology

The Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust have rejected an apology by Lord Ahmed for suggesting that Jews control the media.

In an interview for a Pakistani TV channel that was obtained and exposed by The Times last month, the Labour peer appeared to blame “my Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels” for a jail term he served in 2009 for dangerous driving after admitting sending text messages while driving his car.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, Lord Ahmed said about the comments, for which he was suspended by the Labour Party: “I’m not antisemitic or a conspiracy theorist. I only believe in facts and I should have stuck with the facts.”

The peer added that he had “the greatest respect” for the Jewish community and apologised to Labour leader Ed Miliband: “He’s of the Jewish faith and I’m sorry that I embarrassed him, or anybody else in the Labour Party.” .

But Community Security Trust spokesperson Mark Gardner rejected the statement: “We note Lord Ahmed’s apology, but it was given to a journalist rather than to the Jewish community and does not explain his appalling behaviour.

"The sincerity of the apology will only be proved by Lord Ahmed’s own future actions. This includes not only his own words, but his willingness to associate with hard-line anti-Israel activists who echo anti-Jewish conspiracy themes and deride mainstream Jewish concerns about antisemitism.”

Board chief executive Jon Benjamin said: “Lord Ahmed has no credible explanation or justification for what he said.”

The Labour peer had suggested in the TV interview that his 2009 charge had “became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this.”

Last updated: 8:45pm, April 4 2013