An Anglican vicar facing a Church of England disciplinary process has sought the help of a lawyer who has a history of defending anti-Israel activists and is a long-standing supporter of pro-Palestinian groups.
Reverend Stephen Sizer must respond by January 18 to a complaint from the Board of Deputies to the church, which triggered action under the clergy disciplinary process set out by Parliament.
He will be assisted by Simon Natas, of the London law firm, Irvine Thanvi Natas. Mr Natas’s colleague, Tayab Ali, last year represented Raed Salah, the cleric accused of repeating the blood libel, in his successful appeal against a deportation order.
In March 2011, Mr Natas’s firm defended four anti-Israel protesters who demonstrated at the Ahava cosmetics store. He spoke at last year’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign conference for trade unionists, and is a signatory to Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ mission statement.
The Board presented the church with a dossier relating to what it said was antisemitic material posted online or passed to contacts by Rev Sizer in the past two-and-a-half years.
Rev Sizer, senior pastor of the Anglican Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, has repeatedly denied accusations of antisemitism. He has twice been forced to alter his website after linking to sites which promote Holocaust denial and Zionist conspiracy theories. More than £1,000 has already reportedly been raised by his supporters to pay for Mr Natas’s fees.