LONDON: A British Muslim peer who caused outrage by blaming a Jewish conspiracy for his imprisonment over a fatal car crash offered an unreserved apology on Thursday for his “unacceptable” remarks.
Pakistan-born Nazir Ahmed was suspended from the opposition Labour party when the comments, made to a Pakistani television station, were published in The Times newspaper earlier this month.
Speaking in Urdu, the 55-year-old had attributed a judge’s decision to jail him for dangerous driving four years ago to pressure from Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”.
“I completely and unreservedly apologise to the Jewish community, to the judiciary, to the newspaper owners,” Ahmed said in an interview with the Huffington Post in Britain.
Ahmed was appointed in 1998 as Britain’s first Muslim member of the House of Lords – the second chamber of the British Parliament.
He struggled to explain why he made the remarks, saying: “It must have been a twisted mind that said those things.”
When he saw the video on The Times website, “I could not believe that this was me,” Ahmed said, adding: “I cannot honestly say why.”
He apologised to his colleagues in the Labour party, from which he was previously suspended in 2012 for allegedly offering a bounty for the capture of US President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush. He denied the comments and was later reinstated.
“I’m particularly sorry to all my colleagues in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons, because one thing many of them know is that I’m not anti-Semitic or a conspiracy theorist,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed was driving along a motorway in northern England on Christmas Day in 2007 when he hit a stationary vehicle, killing the 28-year-old Slovakian driver.
He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and in February 2009, a judge sentenced him to 12 weeks in jail after hearing that he sent five text messages in the minutes before the crash.
In the video, Ahmed had claimed that his conviction was overturned. The sentence was in fact suspended, and he was released after serving 16 days in jail, according to The Times.
The newspaper claimed the interview on Pakistani television was broadcast in April last year, but Ahmed said it was from two or three years ago.