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Lord Nazir speaks out

Published May 15, 2013 01:42pm
File photo shows Lord Nazir Ahmed.—Photo by AP
File photo shows Lord Nazir Ahmed.—Photo by AP

LONDON: Lord Nazir Ahmed, the British parliamentarian of Kashmiri origin, has ended his nearly four-decade affiliation with the Labour Party with “a heavy heart” following a row over his alleged anti-Semitic remarks during a television broadcast.

The decision by Lord Ahmed, who had arrived in Britain in 1970 at the age of 12 from Mirpur in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, came on Monday, two days before a hearing on his alleged remarks.

Mr Ahmed, who is based in Rotherham, was suspended from the Labour Party in March this year following a report in the Times that he had blamed a Jewish conspiracy for his 2009 prison sentence for dangerous driving.

The Times had claimed that Mr Ahmed appeared on a Pakistani television channel and claimed that his prison sentence for dangerous driving resulted from pressure placed on the courts by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”.

In his resignation letter to Eric Wilson, the head of Labour Party’s National Constitution Committee (NCC), he said: “I am being held to account following a publication in the Times of an interview alleged to have been given by me some two years ago to a Pakistani anchor based in Pakistan. I do not recall when this interview was held, where this interview was held and nor the person who carried out this interview. All I know is what has been reported in the Times. I reject the core story that emerges out of the alleged interview.”

Mr Ahmed maintained that the only evidence against him before the NCC was the Times’ reporting and the translation of the purported transcript, which was not available even with the National Executive Committee of Labour Party.

“I believe that justice of the case demands that the film of the interview should be subjected to forensic test in order to search for the truth of the matter. This has been denied to me.”

Lord Ahmed regretted that the Labour Party had not made any independent inquiry before suspending him or even fixing the disciplinary hearing on May 15, 2013.

He said the translation of the purported transcript of the alleged interview had many gaps [inaudible] which put its credibility in question and it was against the rules of natural justice to decide his political career in the party on the basis of the flawed evidence.

Without naming Hafiz Saeed of Lashkar-e-Taiba, he recalled that only recently his picture was published in a Pakistani newspaper with a certain politician with whom he had no contact whatsoever for the past three years.

“I was not even in Pakistan at the time and date when it was ascribed to me. It is somewhat sinister that because of my pursuit of the inquiry of a murder of a Pakistani politician in the streets of London,” he said, referring to the murder of Dr Imran Farooq of the MQM.

Lord Ahmed was host of former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza during the latter’s visit to the UK in late 2011, who had claimed that he was in possession of some evidence relating to a plot to kill Dr Farooq, implicating figures within the MQM.

On March 28 Mr Ahmed had “completely and unreservedly” apologised to the Jewish community, telling the Huffington Post that he could not “believe” it when he saw the Times reports of what he had said in the interview.

Referring to his apology, he said: “I have made it quite clear previously and do so again that the apology was made without prejudice to my primary position and to assuage any feelings of antagonism that may have been created against me that if at any time I may have said anything inadvertently I wanted to apologise for that.”

He said the party which had freedom and justice as it core values and which he endeared for decades was content to proceed against him on the basis of incredible and untested evidence.

“That indeed leads me to believe that the decision might have already been made. In the circumstances I seem to have no alternative but to resign from the Labour Party. I do not wish to unnecessarily provide bad press for the party and/or do anything that would alienate voters from the party having been a loyal supporter and servant of it for decades.”

Lord Ahmed was appointed to the House of Lords by Tony Blair in 1998, along with three other Muslim peers.

Last year, he was suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation of alleged remarks made at a meeting in Haripur, Pakistan. However, he was later cleared and reinstated.