Ann Widdecombe defends appearances on 'antisemitic' radio stations

The Brexit Party MEP and former Conservative minister has made numerous appearances on shows which have aired conspiracy theories, it was revealed this week


Ann Widdecombe has defended her appearances on radio shows which have provided platforms for antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial, saying “if I am antisemitic, the Pope is anti-Catholic”.

Ms Widdecombe, a Brexit Party MEP and former Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, appeared on the David Icke-linked Richie Allen Show three times between August 2017 and April 2019, it was revealed this week.

The Richie Allen Show has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories including that of “Rothschild-Zionism”, a supposed “secret society putting its agents in places of power”.

And on August 9 she was also a guest on Bristol Community FM’s Politics Show. The programme is hosted by Tony Gosling, who was the subject of an Ofcom complaint by the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI).

It alleged that his programme is “filled with conspiracy theories, extremism, racism and propaganda”.

Mr Gosling denied the accusations, and was cleared by Ofcom in March.

Ms Widdecombe told the JC that in each case she agreed to appear on the programmes to discuss Brexit, and that it was unreasonable to expect politicians to know “who’s been on before and said what in the past”.

She said: “[Mr Gosling’s show] was on a community radio station. Community radio stations are usually the most harmless.

“I had never heard of the Richie Allen Show until I agreed to go on. I cannot do that level of detail before going on a programme, when I get 20 requests a day.

“I am commenting on Brexit all the time, anywhere and everywhere.”

In its complaint to Ofcom, UKLFI claimed that Mr Gosling suggested on air that the Manchester Arena bombing was carried out by MI5 and the Rothschild family.

The Richie Allen Show has frequently hosted Nick Kollerstrom, a fringe commentator who has denied the existence of gas chambers and has disputed the Jewish death toll in Nazi extermination camps.

Holocaust denier Alison Chabloz, who was convicted in 2018 for posting two “grossly offensive” antisemitic videos, including material mocking victims of the Holocaust, has also featured on the show.

Ms Widdecombe, the MP for Maidstone and the Weald between 1987 and 2010, pointed to her longstanding support for Israel and Jewish causes, having been a member of Conservative Friends of Israel and a speaker at B’nai B’rith events.

One of her novels, An Act of Treachery, is set during the Holocaust, and examines a German officer’s conflict between patriotism and his opposition to Nazism, she emphasised.

She said: “I wouldn’t mind if I had not always supported Jewish causes. If I am antisemitic, the Pope is anti-Catholic.”

Earlier this week, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell defended his appearances on the Richie Allen Show, arguing that it is unwise to “ignore or dismiss the audiences of right-wing media… They will never change unless they hear a different viewpoint.”

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