Contrite MP offers services to Israel group

Patrick Mercer (Photo: PA)

Patrick Mercer (Photo: PA)

Under-fire MP Patrick Mercer has offered to ask questions in Parliament on behalf of pro-Israel groups.

Following a meeting with Zionist Federation chairman Paul Charney, Mr Mercer said he was willing to put forward questions in the interest of the Jewish community in an attempt to repair relations after he appeared to make an antisemitic remark.

Mr Mercer said: “I’m putting down a series of questions about various issues that interest me. I’m pretty concerned about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. I will continue to help my friends in the Jewish community.”

The ZF is currently running a campaign appealing for the government to ban the IRG.

Mr Mercer is currently being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over claims he accepted £4,000 to lobby for Fijian interests.

There is no suggestion that the MP will be paid for tabling the pro-Israel questions.

At last week’s meeting with Mr Charney, Mr Mercer apologised for comments he made, while being filmed by an undercover reporter, that an Israeli soldier looked “like a bloody Jew”.

Mr Charney had written to the MP after the BBC Panorama programme broadcast the comment in May. Mr Charney said he had been “appalled at the disgraceful remarks”.

He said: “Mr Mercer tried to explain why he said it. He said it was thoughtless, stupid and he didn’t mean it. He said he’s always admired Israel.

“I explained why I was offended, both as a Jew and as a former Israeli soldier. He sounded even more apologetic and he wants to repair the damage.”

The MP may also attend ZF events to show his support for Israel.

“I thought he came across as very genuine. He apologised to me and the Jewish community and I accepted it. Friends do not just throw friends out in times of trouble,” said Mr Charney.

The Newark MP resigned from the Conservative Party in May after a Daily Telegraph and Panorama investigation showed him apparently being paid by fake lobbyists to table questions in Parliament on behalf of a fictional Fijian client. At the end of the BBC programme, he was shown making the remark about a female soldier while discussing a recent trip to Israel.

Last updated: 7:45am, July 12 2013