Ruling on Al Quds Day march leader who blamed ‘Zionists’ for Grenfell referred to High Court

An industry regulator had found Nazim Ali’s comment was not racist, but the Professional Standards Authority has now asked top court to review case


A finding by an industry regulator that a comment by the leader of the Al Quds Day march blaming the Grenfell Tower tragedy on ‘Zionists’ was not antisemitic has been referred to the High Court.
Nazim Ali, who is also managing partner at London’s Chelsea Pharmacy Medical Clinic, told the annual anti-Israel rally in London in 2017 that “Zionists supporters of the Tory Party” were responsible for the “murder of the people in Grenfell.”
He also said that “the Zionists are here to occupy Regent Street. It’s in their genes. It’s in their genetic code.”
In a review of the comments, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)’s fitness to practise committee had ruled last month that a suspension would be “inappropriate” and gave Mr Ali an official warning.
It found Mr Ali’s Grenfell comment was “utterly appalling”, “grossly offensive and particularly aggravating” but not antisemitic.
However, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) - an independent body which oversees industry regulators in the UK – has now referred Mr Ali’s case to the High Court. 
The judge could either dismiss the appeal, quash the decision or substitute it with another decision, or send the case back to GPhC for reconsideration.
Speaking at the GPhC hearing, Mr Ali had apologised “unreservedly” for any offence caused by his comments but denied charges of antisemitism. 
He said he fully understood the “pain and hurt” caused by his remarks and expressed “deep regret” over the incident.
 “I am not, and have never been, antisemitic. I oppose all forms of prejudice. I never intended to say anything that was antisemitic on 18 June 2017,” he added. 

Campaigners at UK Lawyers for Israel and Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed the referral.
Stephen Silverman, of CAA, described the GPhC’s ruling as “deeply flawed” and “insufficient to protect the public”.
“There was no way that we could allow this decision to stand due to the dangerous precedent that it set both for British Jews and the public which relies on healthcare professionals to be properly regulated.”
A spokesperson for the PSA said it referred the “decision to the High Court because we considered that it may be insufficient to protect the public. 
“The Authority was concerned that the committee had erred in its approach to a charge that the comments made by Mr Ali were antisemitic.”

In a statement to the JC, Mr Ali said: "During the GPhC hearing I apologised for any hurt caused by my comments and stated that I was not an antisemite, a point that three members of the fitness to practice committee agreed with. 

"I have been an anti-racist activist for many decades. I oppose all forms of racial and religious discrimination including antisemitism. These accusations by the CAA are incorrect."

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