Say I am not an antisemite, David Ward tells Lib Dems

Former MP appeals against suspension from party as Vince Cable takes over as leader


Former MP David Ward has appealed against his suspension from the Liberal Democrats, urging the party to state that he is not antisemitic.

Mr Ward, who previously accused Jews of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”, was sacked as a general election candidate by the party in April, with his membership later suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

He had intended to stand in the Bradford East constituency where he lost his seat in 2015.

At the time, Tim Farron, the then Lib Dem leader, said: "I believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united. David Ward is unfit to represent the party and I have sacked him."

But Mr Ward submitted his appeal on Wednesday, saying that Mr Farron’s decision to remove him as a candidate was “unconstitutional and against any sense of natural justice”.

Referring to Mr Farron in his appeal, Mr Ward wrote: “In a letter from him to a former party member and in public statements he has provided more details and specifically stated that I am antisemitic.

“To disprove this I can provide an extensive body of evidence, including previous comments made by Tim Farron but also legal opinions, an array of witnesses including many party members and representatives of Jewish groups with experience of supporting people falsely accused of antisemitism.”

He said he had received no evidence from the Lib Dems that his comments had “damaged the party”.

Asking the appeal panel to consider his position, Mr Ward wrote: “The former leader of the Liberal Democrats has branded me as being antisemitic.

“This vile slur has had distressing and damaging consequences for me and for my former local party.

“I for instance was ‘sacked’ from the governing board of a local school I have had an association with for 25 years on the grounds that if Tim Farron believed, in his words, I was ‘unfit to hold office on behalf of the party’ then I was deemed to be also unfit to be a governor of the school.”

He wrote that he would “welcome a statement by the panel that I am not, in its view, antisemitic”.

Mr Ward is supported in his case by Baroness Tonge, the former Lib Dem peer, who sent him a message expressing her support.

“Good luck my friend and colleague,” she wrote. “I am afraid I do not want to belong to the Lib Dems anymore - not in its present form anyway. They must break this subservience to the Israel lobby before I do.”

Mr Ward stood as an independent in Bradford East in June, receiving 3,576 votes. But the seat was held by Labour’s Imran Hussain, who defeated Mr Ward in 2015, and extended his majority to more than 20,000.

Meanwhile Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, was today confirmed as the new Liberal Democrat leader. He was unopposed in a contest for the role.

During his time in the coalition government, Dr Cable attempted to impose an arms embargo on Israel during the 2014 Gaza conflict. His efforts sparked a row with Conservative cabinet colleagues.

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