MP defends 'disloyal' envoy to Israel claims

By Jennifer Lipman, December 2, 2011
Paul Flynn MP

Paul Flynn MP

The Labour MP at the centre of a storm over his suggestion that the British ambassador to Israel could be disloyal because he is Jewish has complained that he has been treated unfairly.

Paul Flynn, who represents the Newport West constituency, said that because Matthew Gould has "proclaimed himself to be a Zionist" he is not a suitable person for the role.

In remarks criticised by MPS, the Foreign Office and Jewish communal organisations, Mr Flynn added that Britain needed an envoy with roots here who "can't be accused of having Jewish loyalty".

Mr Flynn said the suggestion that he had made an antisemitic remark was "ludicrous".

Writing on his blog, he said: "I have been a lifelong friend of Israel and Jewish causes. I have visited Israel on four occasions including a private family holiday."

"I have been accused of being too friendly to Israel on many occasions."

He said he was disappointed in the criticism from his Labour colleagues "without any of them first contacting me".

On Thursday, Labour MP Denis MacShane raised Mr Flynn's comments in the House Business Questions. He said it should be made absolutely clear "that we do not have a religious bar in our diplomatic service and that we do not say that Jews cannot serve in Israel".

Last updated: 11:08am, December 2 2011