George Galloway has said he will sue Jon Lansman, the Jewish founder of the left-wing Momentum group, after Mr Lansman accused him of antisemitism and called for him to be sacked from his job at Talk Radio.
The former Labour and Respect MP tweeted on Tuesday morning that he had “instructed solicitors to bring a case for defamation against Jon Lansman, owner of Momentum.”
He added that he would be calling Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a witness when the case was heard.
In a later tweet, he wrote that he had “never said an antisemitic word in my life” and had fought against fascism and antisemitism.
I was wrong to tweet that David Badiel was an “Israel-fanatic”, he is not and I have deleted it. I should have said that David Badiel routinely slanders Israel-critics like me as “anti-Semites”.— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) January 30, 2018
The legal action was a response to comments made by Mr Lansman in support of the Jewish comedian David Baddiel, who was involved in an earlier dispute with Mr Galloway on social media.
In a tweet on Sunday, Mr Galloway had attacked what he claimed was Mr Baddiel’s support for Israel.
Mr Galloway wrote: “There will be no supporter of the Palestinian people marching behind vile Israel-fanatic ‘comedian’ David Baddiel. There will be no opponent of Imperialist wars marching behind Stella Creasy [Labour MP for Walthamstow]. #JustSaying.”
Mr Baddiel responded on Monday, accusing Mr Galloway of antisemitism. The comedian wrote: “Since I've always made it entirely clear that my attitude to that country [Israel] is entirely meh, I think we can only conclude that by "Israel-fanatic" George just means Jew. Vile Jew. And that therefore he is an antisemite. Now let him come at me with his stupid f***ing lawyers.”
Mr Galloway tweeted 24 hours later that “I was wrong to tweet that David Baddiel was an ‘Israel fanatic’, he is not and I have deleted it. I should have said that David Baddiel routinely slanders Israel critics like me as ‘antisemites’.”
Mr Lansman became involved when he expressed his “solidarity” with Mr Baddiel.
“Since he’s a Jew who’s talked about being non-Zionist, there’s no possible reason to call him a “vile Israel-fanatic” other than antisemitism. There clearly should be no place for @georgegalloway in @UKLabour or in the employment of @talkRADIO,” he tweeted.
In his original tweet, Mr Galloway appeared to have been referring to the support Mr Baddiel and Ms Creasy have both shown for a planned march protesting against Donald Trump’s visit to the UK, which is planned for later this year.
The use of the defamatory smear of anti-Semitism against supporters of the Palestinian people has at least for me gone far enough. I have instructed Solicitors to bring a case for defamation against Jon Lansman owner of Momentum. I will be calling @jeremycorbyn as a witness.— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) January 30, 2018
In the past, Mr Galloway has shown no hesitation in threatening to sue people who have accused him of antisemitism. In 2015, he said he had begun libel proceedings against Hadley Freeman, a Jewish journalist for the Guardian, after she accused him of antisemitism. He also sent legal letters to a number of people who had retweeted the accusation that he was an antisemite, demanding £5,000 compensation and threatening legal action.