The criminal justice system is failing to protect Britain’s Jews because of soft sentences and botched prosecutions for hate crimes, legal experts and community leaders have warned.
In the latest instance of a “shocking miscarriage of justice”, Jeremy Corbyn fanatic Nicholas Nelson, who sent a Jewish writer messages celebrating the Holocaust, was only given a suspended sentence. This was despite his long history of similar acts, including a previous conviction for targeting Jewish MPs with antisemitic abuse.
The Solicitor General is now reviewing the Nelson case, following pressure from anti-racism group Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA). But senior lawyers and community figures told the JC it fitted into a disturbing pattern.
In recent years, a hate crime charge against a man who viciously attacked at least three Jewish men was dropped, and the CPS took action against a Hitler-loving radio presenter and a viciously antisemitic neo-Nazi army veteran only after pressure by the CAA.
Lord Carlile QC, the former government reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation, told the JC he was concerned about a “failure to prosecute what looks to me extremely like hate crime”.
The situation has also prompted the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, to write to Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC to say that “our community should not have to feel unprotected by the public agency responsible for bringing criminals to account.”
And top lawyer Daniel Berke, a director at UK Lawyers for Israel, told the JC that even though the CPS has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, it was time for those working in the criminal justice system to receive full training on what constitutes anti-Jewish racism.
Earlier this month and to widespread outrage, the CPS decided to drop racially or religiously aggravated elements of the charges against Abdullah Qureshi, 28, who attacked at least three identifiably Jewish victims in Stamford Hill last summer. In one of the assaults, he punched an Orthodox man to the ground.
In August last year, Hitler-loving radio presenter Graham Hart was jailed for vile Jew-hatred more than two years after he was reported to police - during which time he committed further offences. It took an intervention by one of CAA’s honorary patrons, Lord Austin, for the CPS to issue charges 13 months after it received the file from the police.
In 2015, army veteran and neo-Nazi leader Jeremy Bedford-Turner called for his “soldiers” to liberate England from “Jewish control” in a speech at London’s Cenotaph. Shockingly, the CPS initially declined to prosecute and only did so two years later after CAA brought a legal challenge, which resulted in a long jail term for Bedford-Turner.
In April last year, notorious Holocaust denier Alison Chabloz was prosecuted on a malicious communications charge for claiming on the social media network Gab that “anything that’s worth controlling will have Jews there controlling it” and accusing Jews of turning their children into “psychopathic maniacs”.
That offence was committed while Chabloz was already serving a suspended sentence for writing, performing and publishing songs which mocked Jews and the Holocaust – but of the 18-week jail sentence that she received, she served just nine weeks behind bars.
The initial case against Chabloz over her vile hate songs came about after CAA launched a private prosecution against her. CAA told the JC that had it not done so, the CPS would have missed its chance to take action due to strict deadlines for bringing prosecutions.
Lord Carlile QC told the JC: “I am concerned by the examples given by the JC of failure to prosecute what looks to me extremely like hate crime. I am also aware of situations in which the police and/or the CPS have declined to charge hate crime by an Islamic organisation not against Jews, but against Muslims who happen not to agree with them.
“I regret that the authorities are failing to perform appropriate depth of analysis of complaints of hate crime. They tend to concentrate on individual words and sentences, whereas it is often the combination of repeated social networking messages that cause the offence, fear, and the stirring of hatred.
“I hope that the authorities will realise that hate crimes are often very serious, causing severe disruption to the lives of victims, and damage to their mental health.”
In her letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms van der Zyl wrote: “I am not sure whether you are aware that the wider Jewish community views the CPS’s record on prosecuting antisemites as extremely poor.
“Whether far right, far left or Islamist, we have seen a number of cases where those who have harassed and attacked the Jewish community have either faced scaled-down charges or no charges at all after the CPS decided not to bring a case.
“This has led to Jewish people feeling they have no choice but to bring private prosecutions in order to see justice done. In 21st-century Britain, our community should not have to feel unprotected by the public agency responsible for bringing criminals to account.”
She requested an urgent meeting with Mr Hill and the CPS’s Chief Executive, Rebecca Lawrence, to “discuss further and determine whether the key issue here is lack of funding, difficulty with current guidelines or a misunderstanding from the organisation as to what the Jewish community expects from you.”
And Claudia Mendoza, co-ceo of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “It would be deeply concerning If a pattern emerges where the CPS is failing to prosecute obvious hate crimes as such.
“It remains unclear as to whether there is a threshold which is not being met – in which case it needs to be lowered – or if the CPS prioritises cases with lower evidential thresholds because of an ever-increasing backlog.
”The Jewish community needs to see the CPS prosecuting antisemitism forcefully and consistently.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Time and again, we have to step into the shoes of the CPS and prosecute cases ourselves, or apply for judicial review of the CPS’s decisions in order to force them to do their job, or use any number of other means at our disposal to try to hold the criminal justice system to account.
“Each failure to prosecute a case tacitly tells police forces not to bother investigating next time and every lenient sentence tells antisemites that Jews are easy targets.
“These failures erode the Jewish community’s confidence: our polling shows that a staggering 59 per cent of British Jews believe that the CPS does not do enough to protect British Jews, with majorities also criticising the police and the courts.
“Politicians keep telling us that change is coming but we are still forced to step in. There is a very real consequence to this betrayal of British Jews: incitement is rampant and crime against Jews is at the highest levels ever recorded. Until the authorities do their job we will do whatever it takes using every legal means to defend our community.”
Mr Berke said: “Many people, especially if they have little cause to interact with Jews, may not appreciate the significance of false claims of Jewish control of banks or media, or what is meant by ‘blood libel’. However, for those involved in the criminal justice system, tasked with investigating and prosecuting cases where anti-Jewish racism is a contributing factor, there is no excuse.
“Adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition is not enough. Training is critical and it should also be incumbent upon those in the criminal justice to ensure that there is a full understanding of what constitutes anti-Jewish racism. Failure to do this is a failure of a minority in the UK which is in desperate need of protection, at a time when Jewish schools and synagogues need enhanced security and when Jews are attacked on the streets and on social media.
“The situation is not helped by debilitating cuts by successive governments, which have left the criminal justice system at breaking point. Criminal barristers are taking industrial action, courts are underfunded and waiting lists for trials are at their highest. There is pressure on the police and CPS to clear cases quickly. This means less time is being spent than is needed and careful assessment of whether an offence against a Jew/Jews is racially/religiously aggravated is less likely to be done. This is not an excuse but may give some explanation. Ultimately, the criminal justice system is letting Jews down.”
A CPS spokesperson said: “We take all forms of hate crime extremely seriously.
“We do prosecute antisemitic offences where the evidence allows.”
On the Qureshi case, it commented: “Abdullah Qureshi admitted one count of assault by beating and one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
“The religiously/racially aggravated charges were discontinued after medical evidence concerning his state of mind at the time.”