BBC Tory leadership contest imam revealed to have tweeted about 'Zionists... hiding behind the Holocaust'

Abdullah Patel was among guests to put questions to those vying to be the next PM


The imam who warned Tory leadership contenders “words have consequences” as he discussed Islamophobia has been revealed to have made inflammatory accusations about how "Zionists" were "hiding behind the Holocaust".

Abdullah Patel, from Bristol, was one of the guests chosen by BBC producers to put a question to Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart during Tuesday’s televised debate.

He reminded the politicians of their responsible to avoid using language which may spark Islamophobia - but Mr Patel was later revealed by the Guido Fawkes site to have regularly made controversial statements himself about Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people.

In one message Mr Patel, who is also deputy head of a primary school in Gloucester, wrote: "How long are the Zionists going to hide behind the Holocaust cry? It was a tragedy, but Gaza today is a repeat of the oppression."

He also tweeted: “Every political figure on the Zionist’s payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn.

“They don’t like him. He seems best suited to tackle them!”

Mr Patel also posted the same graphic showing Israel being relocated inside America as a “solution for Israel-Palestine conflict” that Labour MP Naz Shah posted in 2016, leading to her being briefly suspended from the party.

Mr Patel has since deleted his Twitter account.

Mr Patel was also revealed to have made controversial comments about women suggesting they should never “be alone with a man” insisting “don’t expect every man to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of you.”

The revelations led to BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nicky Campbell apologising for hosting Mr Patel on Wednesday morning.

"His social media comments have been extremely disturbing. We should have checked. We didn’t. I’m sorry,” he tweeted.

The iman attacked what he said was the "shameful" treatment of activist Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled from Labour over allegations, including that he heckled Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth.

He also claimed "antisemitism" was being "abused by the right" to further agenda.

On Wednesday, he appeared on BBC Gloucester, saying his comments about Israel were made five years ago and that the criticism was not of the Jewish community.

The BBC later issued a statement, saying it had "carried out background research" into the social media of all the questioners but missed Mr Patel's comments because they were on a Twitter account that was deactivated at the time but he reactivated it after the programme.

"Had we been aware of the views he expressed there, he would not have been selected," a spokesperson said.

Mr Patel's school later announced it had suspended him, pending an investigation.

During Tuesday’s debate, Mr Johnson twice appeared to forget the Iman’s name as he attempted to respond to his question. Mr Gove said Islamphobia was “repugnant” but also pointed to antisemitism in Labour.

Mr Johnson also apologised for describing Muslim women in burkas as looking like "letterboxes" – and said that his own great-grandfather was a Muslim refugee.

He said: "When my Muslim great-grandfather came to this country in fear of his life in 1912, he did so because he knew it was a place that was a beacon of hope and of generosity and openness, and a willingness to welcome people from around the world.”

In response to Mr Patel's question, Home Secretary Mr Javid appeared to bounce all his colleagues into agreeing to an independent investigation into Islamophobia in their party.

It also emerged that another guest who asked a question had worked at Labour headquarters to work on antisemitism cases. Guido Fawkes quoted a source who said Aman Thakar was hired to help “close down” cases, having been hired under Shami Chakrabarti.

Mr Thakar – who stood as a Labour council candidate in Southwark last year – asked the final question in which he accused the candidates of having no democratic mandate.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Last night’s debate saw, for the first time, all the remaining prime ministerial candidates put on the spot, answering a range of public questions. A background in politics doesn’t disqualify anyone from taking part in a debate show. Last night’s questioners held a range of political views and we did not specify these views nor their backgrounds although some chose to do so themselves.

“The last questioner on the debate is a solicitor who was seconded by his law firm to the Labour Party in the past, rather than being a Labour ‘staffer’. He is a Labour supporter and once stood as a councillor.”

An earlier version of this article stated that Mr Patel had tweeted that he had "consulted the Muslim Council of Britain and Islamist advocacy group MEND ahead of his BBC appearance". This was incorrect, and we apologise for the error

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