Pro-Israel MP fires pro-Palestinian staffer

By Leon Symons, September 15, 2009
Follow The JC on Twitter
Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, one of Israel’s staunchest Parliamentary supporters, has sacked the man he appointed as his campaigns and communications manager for allegedly not revealing that he was pro-Palestinian.

Mr Gardiner, a former vice chair of Labour Friends of Israel, had appointed Joseph Brown to the post.

Last year Mr Brown was the union anti-racism officer at the London School of Economics (LSE) and took part in an anti-Israeli demonstration in January in the wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

He also proposed an anti-Israeli motion that was passed by the students’ union. He was pictured at the demonstration holding a “Free Palestine” placard and declared his “continued dedication to the Palestinian cause”.

Mr Brown clearly became a controversial figure at the LSE. This was something I consider he should have made me aware of. He did not. That was either naivete or a serious breach of trust.

Barry Gardiner MP

The appointment drew criticism from synagogues in Mr Gardiner’s constituency.

In a strongly-worded statement, Mr Gardiner accused Mr Brown of not telling him about his views.

Mr Gardiner said: “Mr Brown clearly became a controversial figure at the LSE. This was something I consider he should have made me aware of. He did not. That was either naivete or a serious breach of trust.

“I do not expect that those who work for me should share all my political views. I do expect them to ensure that their own views do not get in the way of the job they have to do. Mr. Brown’s capacity to fulfil his duties as my campaigns and communications manager has been seriously impaired and I have dismissed him.”

But in a long statement, Mr Brown insisted that Mr Gardiner was "well aware of my involvement in student pro-Palestinian activism and work professionally for a Palestinian-American interest group based in Washington DC.

"It was not only very clearly illustrated on my CV and in my studies, it was his first question at interview and moreover, I had supplied him with published articles outlining my opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict".

He claimed that charges made against him while he had been anti-racism officer at LSE had been investigated and "dismissed as baseless... The suggestion that I hid any of my study, work or activism from the MP is unfounded.

"The argument that I should have told Barry what allegations had been made against me and dismissed in the past, is as unreasonable as asking a man on trial to list all of the charges he has ever been found innocent of, ‘just in case’."

He concluded: "While I can think of few things more worrying than the prospect of a Tory government, I have come to the conclusion that Brent North could find far more appropriate Labour candidates than Barry, who has no issue with ignoring the right course of action, in favour of the easier route".

Last updated: 10:02am, September 16 2009