Police called after Tory-supporting lawyer bursts into Lib Dem office and launches tirade against Luciana Berger

Jonathan Metliss, who supports Mike Freer's campaign to be re-elected Finchley and Golders Green MP, said Ms Berger was a ‘disgrace’


A top corporate lawyer is facing claims that he burst into Luciana Berger’s office and tore campaign posters off the windows while shouting abuse about her for opposing the Conservative Mike Freer.

Jonathan Metliss, chairman of business law firm Axiom Stone and a member of the Board of Deputies defence committee, stormed into the offices of the Liberal Democrat candidate for Finchley and Golders Green on Friday afternoon.

According to multiple sources who have spoken to the JC, he branded Ms Berger “evil” and a “disgrace” for standing as a parliamentary candidate and also made further crude allegations about her.

Apparently unable to control his anger Mr Metliss, who is chairman of the anti-football racism charity Action against Discrimination, then shocked Lib Dem volunteers working in the office by tearing campaign posters featuring Ms Berger off a window.

A spokesperson for Ms Berger, who repeatedly faced threats towards her during her time as a Labour MP, confirmed the incident had been reported to the parliamentary police.

One eyewitness told the JC: “It was shortly before Shabbat because I was getting ready to go to Shul.

“Jonathan Metliss just launched into the tirade against Luciana.

“He accused her of being evil, and there was some sort of reference to her personal life. He then added she was a disgrace and that by standing in Finchley against Freer she was allowing Corbyn to become Prime Minister.

“He then pulled a poster off of the front window of the premises which had Luciana’s picture on.

“He carried on tearing off leaflets from the walls. All of this was done in front of the campaign team, most of them are volunteers. Then he just stormed out.”

Mr Freer has been the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green since 2010 and is standing again in next month’s election.

Another witness told the JC: “It was quite horrible to see.

“This man in his 50s, who I was later told was Jonathan Metliss, just started hurling abuse about Luciana.

“There was real venom and hatred in his language.

“Luciana has a had a fantastic response since announcing she was standing in Finchley. But there does seem to be this problem with a small group of men, all of them Conservatives, who seem aggrieved that their view of what Luciana should do politically is not adhered to.”

Ms Berger is widely tipped to triumph at next month’s General Election.

Mr Freer told the JC in an interview last month he wanted the contest to be a “clean fight” — but he was quick to level the accusation that by standing in the seat she risked letting Mr Corbyn into No 10.

There have also been claims that she should have contested a different seat because Mr Freer is a friend of the community.

But the Lib Dems have countered this by suggesting that Ms Berger will take away any chance of Labour winning in the seat and also offers voters the chance of backing a candidate who does not support Mr Freer or the government’s Brexit stance.

Both the Lib Dems and Labour candidate Ross Houston have argued that every candidate standing in a seat where 20 per cent of the electorate are Jewish should be a friend of the community.

Mr Metliss has been a member of the Westminster Conservative Association and on the executive of the Conservative Friends of Israel group.

A specialist in corporate finance and take-overs and mergers, he was a founder member of the SJ Berwin law firm. He has also worked as a consultant to the Shore Capital Group.

Mr Metliss has been involved in large UK corporate transactions including British Land’s £1.17bn acquisition of The Broadgate Estate and takeovers of Tottenham Hotspur FC in the early 1980s and 2000.

Mr Metliss was once a close friend of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie who arranged a meeting between the then Labour leader’s chief adviser on health and Nexus Healthcare.

In September Mr Metliss was appointed chairman of business law firm Axiom Stone. In his role with the AAD football charity he began a joint campaign with the Board of Deputies over antisemitic chants from fans.

When contacted by the JC and asked about the incident, Mr Metliss said: “I have no comment.”

He later issued a statement saying: "Whilst I acknowledge that my outburst was ill-judged, nobody was harmed or threatened and save for a torn poster, no damage was caused. I have unreservedly apologised for any distress that I caused.

“Behind this though is a legitimate concern shared by many members of the Jewish community that Ms Berger is campaigning for the Lib Dems in a constituency represented by Mr Freer, a Conservative, who is a long standing and supportive member of the Jewish community and the State of Israel.

"The effect of Ms Berger campaigning for this seat may be to split the Jewish vote and in doing so, assist Labour in winning the seat and bolstering Jeremy Corbyn’s prospects of becoming Prime Minister, which is a frightening prospect for the UK Jewish community.”

He also claimed that he had no idea when he entered the office that it was the LibDem campaign HQ.

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