Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has sacked controversial peer Jenny Tonge as the party’s health spokesperson in the Lords over her demands for an investigation into allegations of body parts harvesting by the Israeli Defence force in Haiti.
Her remarks followed an article making the accusations in the online journal Palestine Telegraph, of which Baroness Tonge is a patron.
In a statement to the JC this week the Lib Dem peer praised the work of the IDF in the aftermath of the earthquale in Haiti but added: “To prevent allegations such as these – which have already been posted on You Tube – going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.”
The comments prompted outrage from fellow Liberal Democrats who put immediate pressure on Mr Clegg to act against Baroness Tonge.
The sanction fell short of removing the whip from Baroness Tonge because the Liberal Democrat leader did not believe her remarks were antisemitic. Mr Clegg has always said that Jenny Tonge would not be a member of the Liberal Democrat if he believed she was racist.
In a statement issued on Friday afternoon Mr Clegg said: “Following discussions with the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Lord McNally, I have decided that Jenny Tonge will stand down as Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson in the Lords following her unacceptable comments suggesting an inquiry into highly offensive allegations against the IDF humanitarian operation in Haiti.
"The comments were wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognise the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community.
"While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is anti-semitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable.
"Jenny Tonge apologises unreservedly for the offence she has caused.”
Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn Ed Fordham said: "Nick Clegg has done the right thing. Jenny had gone beyond what was acceptable and Nick promised he would act - he has now taken incredibly severe action. Jenny's comments were damaging within the community and also to the wider debate about the Middle East."