Lib Dems won’t discipline David Ward over Gaza rocket tweet

Bradford East MP David Ward

Bradford East MP David Ward

The Liberal Democrats will not take disciplinary action against an MP who said he would “probably” fire a rocket if he lived in Gaza.

Bradford East MP David Ward tweeted last month: “The big question is – if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes.”

The party’s chief whip, Don Foster, said on Wednesday that the tweet had not brought the Lib Dems into disrepute and had not been motivated by antisemitism.

Mr Foster said a subsequent apology from the MP “should draw a line under this matter”.

That finding was based on Mr Ward making public statements condemning violence on both sides of the Gaza conflict.

The day after the message appeared Mr Ward issued a statement which said: “I condemn the actions of Hamas and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise."

Mr Foster concluded: “In light of that apology, the assurance by David Ward that he would do all he could to ensure comments he made would be in a form that would be difficult to misinterpret, and that he will continue to condemn violence on both sides and support moves for a ceasefire, I do not intend to take further action in relation to the tweet.

“I am conscious that this decision will not satisfy some people. To them I would say, at a time of considerable international unease in the Middle East, comments have been made by politicians from all parties that have been unwelcome by some or other section of society.

“David accepts that his tweet did cause offence to some people. He recognises that the use of Twitter as a form of communication can lead to misinterpretation and accepts the need for greater care in the future.”

The party had initially said leader Nick Clegg “utterly condemned” Mr Ward’s comments.

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi reported the comments to the police and asked them to investigate whether the tweet represented an offence as "encouragement of terrorism".

Mr Ward caused outrage last year when he when, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, he accused “the Jews” of afflicting “atrocities on the Palestinians”.

He has repeatedly posted tweets questioning Israel’s right to exist and was briefly stripped of the party whip last year.

Last updated: 4:45pm, August 13 2014