Tag Archives: hearing

Police who stop-searched UK athletes could lose their jobs

Remember when Metropolitan Police officers dragged UK sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner out of their car and away from their three-month-old child on false claims that they could smell cannabis?

Nearly two years after the incident, five officers involved will face gross misconduct charges that could lead to them being sacked. Another officer will face a charge of misconduct.

It is understood that a disciplinary panel will also consider whether racial discrimination played any part in the actions of some of the officers, who deny wrongdoing and insist they will contest the charges.

This Site reported on the incident when it happened.

Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos were stopped at 1.20pm on July 4, 2020 in Maida Vale, north-west London, by officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group. He was driving and she was in the back with their child.

Reports of a police statement at the time claimed,

The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.

The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.

It was also alleged that the officers justified their search by claiming they could smell cannabis.

Both athletes are trained by the former Olympic champion Linford Christie, who accused police of institutional racism, and they also said they believed racism played a part in the incident.

In a statement, Christie asked,

“Can Cressida Dick [then Met Police Commissioner, who spoke in support of her officers’ behaviour] or anyone please explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over?

“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?

“This is not the first time this has happened (second time in two months) and I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any long #BLM #MetPoliceRacist.”

A few days later, the Met referred the incident to the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which has taken two years to deliver its findings.

This Writer’s personal opinion is that I would want access to every piece of evidence used in the case, when the disciplinary panel comes to hear it, because I simply don’t trust the institutions involved to make a correct decision without public supervision.

I have grave doubts about the reasons the Met gave to justify chasing, stopping and searching these athletes’ car, and there is also the matter of the distress caused to them as they were separated from their very young child.

The IOPC’s recommendation is a step in the right direction. But will it be a case of one step forward, two steps back?

Source: Police who handcuffed Bianca Williams to face gross misconduct charge | UK news | The Guardian

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Riley appeal hearing: at last, the details!

The Royal Courts of Justice in London: you don’t have to go there to watch my appeal – it’s happening on YouTube.

The April 27 appeal hearing has been listed at “not before 10.30”, so it would be sensible to have the YouTube link open by 10.30am.

This is the link:

The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) – Live streaming of court hearings

We also know the identity of the judges! They are:

1. Dame Victoria Sharp: the President of the Queen’s Bench Division. I understand that Sharp is quite experienced in these sorts of cases. Hopefully, she will be slow to allow a public interest defence to be struck out when that defence expressly depends on a reasonable belief which has yet to be articulated in my own words, let alone tested at court.

2. Lord Justice Launcelot Henderson. Henderson is an incredibly intelligent and academic commercial judge. Hopefully, this works in my favour because the technical analysis of a public interest defence should require the court to hear and test my evidence.

3. Lord Justice Mark Warby. He is a highly specialised defamation lawyer.

In theory, I have good reason to feel optimistic. However: it is impossible to guess the outcome based on the identity of the judges.

The appeal will stand or fall on the basis of the legal arguments.

I am heartened that my solicitor thinks we have put forward a compelling argument – and that the High Court’s judgment is a dangerous precedent for other public interest defences.

How will it all resolve itself?

Tune in and find out.

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Jackie Walker was right to withdraw from a prejudiced disciplinary procedure that makes a mockery of the Labour Party

Everybody who represents the Labour Party – in any role – should be ashamed of this.

Jackie Walker, the Jewish Labour activist who has been subjected to years of abuse after being accused of anti-Semitism for requesting an accurate definition of the offence, has walked out of the party’s disciplinary hearing against her, saying it was prejudiced against her from the start.

Her experiences, as recounted in this article on the Jewish Voice for Labour website, correspond very closely with my own. Her response to them leads me to regret that I did not abandon my own hearing when I realised it was a kangaroo court.

Ms Walker said the disciplinary panel refused to allow her to speak in her defence, and said she had been presented with a large amount of new evidence, only days ahead of the hearing.

This certainly rings true for me. Although I did not try to make an opening statement, as Ms Walker did, I was frustrated in my attempts to establish my innocence by constant interruptions from a panel whose chair was not interested in the evidence.

It seemed clear to me that the panel was under instructions to find against me, no matter what emerged during the hearing – and I note that Ms Walker feels the same way about her hearing.

I was not presented with new evidence days before the hearing; I was presented with it during the hearing itself, in contravention of Labour’s own rules on the presentation of evidence.

Those rules state that new evidence may only be admitted with the express consent of both sides in a dispute, and that time must be allowed for a response to be submitted before any hearing takes place.

This did not happen in Ms Walker’s case, nor did it happen in mine.

Ms Walker also fell foul of the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by Labour for its hearings, which is not the IHRA working definition that the party claims to have adopted last summer.

She wrote: “The LP now submits that the test to be applied to an allegation of antisemitism against me ‘does not require the NCC to engage in a debate as to the proper definition of anti-Semitism’ but rather whether an ‘ordinary person hearing or reading the comments might reasonably perceive them to be antisemitic’.  That is an extraordinary dilution of the adopted test of ‘hatred towards Jews’ which is a definition of antisemitism with which I wholeheartedly agree.”

In my own hearing, the accusation was that somebody (who was never identified and who therefore, legally, does not exist) felt offended or upset by words I had written on This Site.

I had constructed my defence around the IHRA working definition and was therefore wrong-footed by this sudden change of direction. I should have halted the proceedings at once but, perhaps foolishly, I wanted to try to end the matter in accordance with party procedures. What a shame the party’s own representatives had no intention of doing the same!

Ms Walker pointed out that she was given no advance notice of the names of the panellists who were to hear her case, so she had no way of checking whether they were likely to give her a fair hearing. This rings true for me, also.

If I had known the name of the chairperson of my own disciplinary panel, and had been given the opportunity to check her own behaviour in other disciplinary hearings, I would have refused to participate until a new panel was selected. There was clear evidence online, showing that she was extremely prejudiced and would not offer anything approaching justice.

I would be very interested to know the names of the panellists in Ms Walker’s case.

Ms Walker pointed to prejudicial comments made against her by Labour MPs. I have also suffered the attentions of Labour MPs who seemed to want to make a name for themselves by treating people who had merely been accused as if they were guilty.

But it did not occur to me that their comments might constitute a reason for a disciplinary panel to find against me. After all, there was already a directive from Labour’s NEC included in the charge sheet, to find against me, no matter what evidence was presented.

And I note with interest that Ms Walker said the Labour Party was guilty of data protection crimes regarding personal information about her that was held by the party. I am also pursuing the Labour Party over breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Put it all together and we see that Labour’s failure to follow its own rules, and its determination to smear party members who speak out about injustice, is not only habitual – it appears to be party policy.

It is a policy for which every single party representative should feel a deep and burning shame.

Those responsible for it should – if they had any moral backbone at all – resign from their positions and from the party at once. They won’t, I know – they will have to be identified and pursued. And that’s a difficult task when they are gleefully removing anybody who might be a threat to them!

But clear breaches of procedure have been identified here, and that should be enough to start a dialogue, at the very least.

Labour’s NEC – and NCC – has taken sides against the ‘wrong kind of Jews’

Last week I made it clear that Labour’s National Executive Committee has descended into racism in order to attack innocent party members like myself under a false pretence of anti-Semitism.

In the same accusation against me, the NEC also fell into anti-Semitism – by supporting an affiliated organisation that victimises people it considers to be the “wrong kind of Jews” (although they may not be described in that way).

By now, readers of This Site will be well aware that I attended a disciplinary hearing arranged by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, at which a prejudiced panel arbitrarily decided that all the accusations against me were proved, despite having heard no evidence at all in support of such a claim.

One of these accusations concerns the Jewish Labour Movement and ran as follows:

On 2nd October 2016 Mr Sivier posted: ‘JLM is not a movement that represents Jews; it represents Jewish Zionists’. ‘The Jewish Labour Movement does not represent Jews who are not Zionists. It persecutes them’.

“This comment is grossly offensive to those the Party seeks to represent particularly the Jewish community. Comments like these have had and continue to have a serious impact on the Party’s position as an inclusive organisation, which stands against antisemitism.

“To state that the Labour Party’s official Jewish affiliate does not represent Jews denies Jews the right to self-define. This conduct is abhorrent, antisemitic and falls way below the standards expected of Party members. This is clearly prejudicial and/or grossly detrimental to the Party.”

Of course I was not suggesting that the JLM does not represent any Jews; my words make it clear that I was saying the organisation – the Labour Party’s official Jewish affiliate, according to the NEC – represents only those Jews who support the political doctrine of Zionism (and even then, only those who support the interpretation of that doctrine supported by that organisation’s leaders).

I confess I was amazed to see this put forward as a charge against me, because my reasons for saying this were supported by the Jewish Labour Movement itself.

When I was interviewed by Labour investigating officer Stewart Owadally about this and other charges in October 2017 and he challenged me on this, I asked him if he had read the article – and he said that he had not. He had not read any of my articles beyond the specific parts he had been asked to highlight and question. This explained why he had not spotted the answer to his question, directly below the words he had highlighted. I simply read it out.

My article argues: “Look at the organisation’s own website. It states:

“The Jewish Labour Movement is also affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

““Zionist”… “Zionist”… “Zionism”… “within the state of Israel”.

““It seems clear that “Jewish Labour Movement” is a misnomer. It should be “Zionist Labour Movement”.”

In my written defence, I went further: “What about Jews who aren’t Zionists, as the JLM defines them?

“How do you think the members of Jewdas – attacked as the “wrong kind of Jew” after Jeremy Corbyn attended an event organised by the group – would describe the JLM?

“Here’s how. Responding to attacks on Mr Corbyn for attending the event in late March, the Jewdas website – at https://www.jewdas.org/enough-is-enough/ stated: “What has happened over the last week is anything but an attempt to address antisemitism. It is the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party. It is a malicious ploy to remove the leader of the Opposition and put a stop to the possibility of a socialist government. The Board of Deputies, the (disgraced for corruption) Jewish Leadership Council and the (unelected, undemocratic) Jewish Labour Movement are playing a dangerous game with people’s lives.”

“So these Jews consider the JLM to be unelected, undemocratic, and playing a dangerous game with people’s lives. Representative of Jews in general? No.”

I continue: “What about Jewish Voice for Labour, which admits full membership only to Labour Party members who identify as Jewish – unlike the JLM, which allows full membership to non-Jews, and also to non-members of the Labour Party? This organisation has campaigned against what it sees as false accusations of anti-Semitism against notable figures like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, and Marc Wadsworth (as has This Writer), and also campaigns against the persecution of Palestinian people by the state of Israel.

“And JLM members hate it. Responding to Harrow East Labour Party’s decision to affiliate to JVL, JLM chair Ivor Caplin told the Jewish Chronicle it was a “stupid decision” to affiliate with an “obsessive group that is often far too generous to antisemites and Holocaust revisionists”. But at least members of JVL are all Jewish, which is more than can be said for the JLM.”

So how can we describe the claim that I am denying Jews the right to self-define?

Bogus. It is the JLM that denies Jews the right to self-define – by siding with those who treat other Labour-supporting Jewish organisations as the “wrong kind of Jews”.

In declaring support for the Jewish Labour Movement and its anti-Semitic* aggression against such people and organisations, the NEC is also declaring its own anti-Semitism.

*I know – it seems strange to describe an organisation claiming to represent Jews as anti-Semitic. But the JLM’s aggression towards the JVL, Jewdas and the others is entirely due to their identity as groups of Jews, so it is entirely appropriate to describe that organisation – and therefore Labour’s NEC – in that manner.

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Guilt through association – a favourite tactic of the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ accusers


It was inevitable that I would face criticism for standing up against the false accusations of anti-Semitism that were used to expel me from the Labour Party last week.

It’s not a bother; I get to explain and clarify why the allegations were wrong.

So, for example, here’s Bob Pitt on the Labour Against the Witchhunt – Unofficial Facebook page. After asking if I would be publishing a list of the accusations against me (I said I’d be going into my defence against all of them), he said he assumed one of these particulars related to my defence of Naz Shah and her tweeting of a satirical meme proposing that Israel should be relocated to the USA. He was right, although I do wonder if he had help zeroing in on it.

He wrote: “The problem was that in defending Naz you linked to an article on the Redress website, which you identified (mistakenly) as the source of the meme. You obviously didn’t bother to check the nature of the Redress site, which is notoriously antisemitic. Even the famously mild-mannered Tony Greenstein became annoyed at you over that. In the comments section he wrote:

“‘This is a stupid and ill-thought out post. Firstly it is wrong. It wasn’t posted first on Redress, it came from a far more illustrious source. It came from a Zionist source – the Jewish Virtual Library – a site where if you want to know anything about Judaism you go to. Secondly it’s a bloody good job that it didn’t come from Redress, because Redress is an anti-Semitic conspiracy site with holocaust deniers, including Gilad Atzmon posting. I suggest large dollops of humble pie and you take this idiotic post down quick.’

“To which you replied: ‘Whether it’s an anti-Semitic conspiracy site or not is really neither here nor there in this instance.’ Not only did you fail to remove the offending article, as Tony asked you to do, but you even republished it, unamended, in your pamphlet The Livingstone Presumption.

“So, if you were charged in connection with that, I would say there was some substance to the charge. You linked to an antisemitic website, and when the character of that site was brought to your attention, you said it didn’t matter and refused to retract.”

This is a false argument – guilt by association – coupled with false information. The image was not from the Jewish Virtual Library.

Here’s the image from the JVL:

Now here’s the image that originated with Redress Online:

And here’s the image Naz Shah tweeted:

Which two look most alike?

Next: The accusation against me by Labour’s NEC did not refer to my article in which I correctly placed the origin of the image with Redress, but to a previous article in which I reported that it had been used by Norman Finkelstein, described by that hideously inaccurate Wikipedia as “an American political scientist, activist, professor, and author. His primary fields of research are the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust, an interest motivated by the experiences of his parents who were Jewish Holocaust survivors.”

My point was that, if this Jewish gentleman, the son of two Jewish Shoah survivors, considered the image to be acceptable, then perhaps the gentiles in the Labour Party needed to think again about their complaint. Fair point?

Another fair point is that Labour’s accusation did not refer to the image, but to the article’s headline: “Nobody bothered to check who created that ‘anti-Semitic’ image Naz Shah retweeted, did they?”

The claim was, “To put ‘antisemitism’ in quotation marks implies that Jews are using the term falsely which diminishes the term and denies Jewish people the language to describe their own oppression.”

I had put “anti-Semitic” in quotation marks because, as you can see from the above, the image isn’t actually anti-Semitic at all. It occurred to me that, to prove the accusation, Labour needed to show that it was, that Jewish people were exclusively responsible for the claim that it was, and that I was limiting my criticism exclusively to those people.

As part of Labour’s “investigation” into the claims against me, I was interviewed in October 2017. Here’s the relevant part of the interviewing officer’s report: “Even though Naz Shah admitted that the image and content she posted was anti-Semitic and went on a training and education programme to correct her views, MS did not acknowledge that there was a problem with him using quote marks in the title.

“He said he was searching for the truth, and wanted to clear up where the image that Naz Shah posted had come from. He said that because the picture, when first posted, was meant satirically. He did acknowledge that the intentions behind Naz Shah posting it may well have been anti-Semitic.

“He cited the fact that the original image was posted by a Jewish man as evidence that it was not anti-Semitic to post it and therefore didn’t accept that putting the word “anti-Semitism” in quote marks could be seen as dismissive.”

And here’s my defence, as submitted to the NCC:

The image is not anti-Semitic. Claims that the image was anti-Semitic were, and are, entirely false, dishonest and deceitful. The definition of anti-Semitism to which the Labour Party subscribes agrees that criticism of the actions of the state of Israel may not be described as anti-Semitic unless certain features are present – and they are not, in this case. I put quotation marks around “anti-Semitic” in the headline to show that people had said it was, but in fact it was not.

The IO [interviewing officer] is mistaken in suggesting that I did not accept that putting the word “anti-Semitism” in quotation marks could be seen as dismissive because a Jewish man had posted the original image. I do not know how he came to that conclusion.

The IO seems to have been labouring under the false impression that the image was anti-Semitic in its own right, independent of Ms Shah’s use of it. She may have admitted anti-Semitic intent in using it – as I said in the interview, her intention in tweeting it was her own business and I could not comment on that. But she had no right to suggest that it was inherently anti-Semitic. The only person who could confirm or deny that would be its creator – and Ms Shah did not create it. The article reported on my attempts to find that person – and came to a mistaken conclusion. When I contacted Norman Finkelstein, the person named in the piece, he said he had not created the image, but had taken it from another website. It took more digging for me to discover that the origin was a website called Redress Online. Mr Finkelstein, who is indeed Jewish, made his own opinion on the matter perfectly clear: the image was satirical and was not anti-Semitic. When I visited Redress Online, I found that he was correct. I made the point (but elsewhere in the interview) that these articles were part of an investigation and my opinions changed as evidence came to light. So the image wasn’t created by Norman Finkelstein but by the Redress Online website which, although accused of anti-Semitism, was not displaying such traits in the production of the image.

As the Labour Party is insisting that the image comes from anti-Semites, I would like to know when the Party changed its position to support the forced removal of Palestinian people from their homes to foreign countries, which is the policy that was being promoted to the Israeli government at the time the image was created, and the policy that the image was attacking. My understanding was that the Party supports the right of every people to self-determination, not just the Jewish people. Note, by the way, that the image was attacking a policy, not a people.

It was a genuine – if satirical – response to a plan that was submitted to Israeli leaders, to transport all Palestinians still living within Israel’s borders to neighbouring countries. I understand that this plan is often discussed – and the new “Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” Act relegates all citizens of that country other than Jews to second-class status, provoking comparisons with apartheid, and permits the expulsion of non-Jewish people from settlements within that country. It also states that Jews are the only people with a right to self-determination in Israel, contrary to article 1(2) of the 1948 United Nations charter – and the Labour Party’s own code of conduct on anti-Semitism. Both make it clear that all people have the right to self-determination.

I do not state, anywhere in the article, that Jews were using the word “anti-Semitic” to describe the image, and were doing so in order to create a false impression, as my accuser claims. I do not discuss the ethnic origin, race or religion of anybody making such a claim in the piece. My accuser makes no effort to provide evidence that I have suggested this of Jews, either exclusively or in conjunction with gentiles. As it is for my accuser to prove my guilt, not for me to prove my innocence, the accusation against me can only be ruled false.

I discussed the image in my book, The Livingstone Presumption, and it is appropriate to reproduce that passage here, as follows:

“It was created as a reaction against proposals to forcibly relocate Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, Gaza, or anywhere else claimed by the Israeli state, moving them into Jordan or even Saudi Arabia.

“It does not say that Israelis should be moved to the US. It suggests a situation in which Israel the country, lock stock and barrel, could be moved to the US. The former could conceivably be a serious recommendation, but the latter cannot. Actually imposing another country on the USA is absurd. It isn’t a serious proposal and there is no movement to do so.

“This image is not anti-Semitic; it is satirical.

“The intention is to point out to certain people that they would not themselves accept something they have no qualms about forcing on Palestinians. People who push the “anti-Semitic” interpretation of the image are either ignorant of its origins or are trying to hoodwink the rest of us.

“Let us examine the image’s origins:

“It was created for an article on a website called Redress Online, dated August 4, 2014 (http://www.redressonline.com/2014/08/clash-of-civilizations-and-a-possible-solution-to-the-palestine-israel-conflict/). The site describes itself as “an independent, privately-funded, non-profit-making website dedicated to exposing injustice, disinformation and bigotry, and to providing thought-provoking interpretations of current affairs… Our scope is global. Owing to the gross injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel and its allies, much of the material currently posted on our website concerns the Middle East. However, our aim is to fulfil our mission as described above wherever it is warranted anywhere in the world.”

“The article itself states: “Israelis and other Zionists often call for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, namely, their ‘transfer’ to Jordan or even Saudi Arabia.

““In the light of the total lack of humanity shown by Israelis in Gaza in particular and towards the Palestinians in general, we believe that a logical counter-proposal would be to transfer the Jews-only state to the belly of its best friend, the United States.”

“Of course, the point being made is that neither proposal is logical at all. It simply asks those who would uproot Palestinians against the will of those people, whether they would want the same thing to happen to them.

“There is a wealth of material online showing that there have been calls for Palestinians to be forcibly removed from their homes. The article reports on the killing of up to 130 Palestinian civilians in Rafah on August 1, 2014 “just to make sure that one Israeli soldier … didn’t fall into Hamas’s hands alive,” so the reference to a “total lack of humanity” is entirely understandable.”

[I should clarify that the phrase “Jews-only state” is justified as the discussion was of a plan to remove members of all other races – leaving only Jewish people. Some have objected to it as anti-Semitic but in this context it is clearly not.]

“In the context of the above, it is clear that the image is not, and never was, a serious suggestion. It’s a simple tit-for-tat: “If you think moving Palestinians to Jordan or Saudi Arabia is a good idea, what’s wrong with moving Israelis to the USA?”

“The absurdity becomes clear if we start asking practical questions: Where would the current residents of that part of the US go? Would they become refugees, like the Palestinians?

“That was also part of the point of the map – to get citizens of Israel and the United States to put themselves in the shoes of the Palestinians.

“What about imposing Palestine on Jordan or Saudi Arabia, or both? Wouldn’t that create huge resentment in the displaced populations of those countries? Or are we only bothered about the USA and Israel? Where would the current residents of those parts of Jordan and Saudi Arabia go? Would they become refugees?

“People weren’t asking these questions – until an image was created that brought the issue much closer to home.

“One point that was made to me is that we rarely hear criticism of the USA over the way that nation has treated native Americans so this image, which superimposes one country where the government wants to displace the native people onto another country where the government has already done so, is to be welcomed – from a certain point of view.

“A commenter on Vox Political tried to take issue with the image due to the language it uses: “The title said: ‘Solution for…’ I can imagine that you know who used that word in reference to Jewish people. If not, google ‘final solution’. Another one: ‘The transportation cost will be…’ Is necessary to remember what meant ‘transportation’ for Jewish people during WWII?”

“But this person was proving the point of those of us who say the image is not to be taken seriously. Those keywords should make it clear to anybody with knowledge about such matters that it is not a practical suggestion but a response to one that is outrageous. Are those Israelis who propose packing Palestinians off to Jordan or Saudi Arabia not suggesting a solution of their own? What would the transportation costs be in that case?

“Another commenter also noted the use of the word “transportation”. He wrote: “On the picture Naz posted about moving Israel to the US one of the bullet points it makes for why it’s such a good idea is that ‘The transportation costs will be less than three years of defence spending’. It’s a joke about how much the US spends on Israeli defence.”

“I found out the origin of the image on a website called Jews For Justice For Palestinians, which has been running a fascinating series of articles on the “anti-Semitism” controversy here in the UK, under the headline Carnival of Ignorance.

“In summary: The sentiments expressed by the image may be interpreted as criticisms of Israeli and US foreign policy.

“We have proof that it was a satirical response to an Israeli plan to force-deport Palestinians into Jordan or Saudi Arabia. Ms Shah’s comment – “Problem solved!” may be considered to be sarcastic in this context. So people who said it was outrageous for Ms Shah to suggest the forced deportation of Israelis from their home country, it seems, had drawn the wrong conclusion. It would be appropriate to ask them if they also consider it to be outrageous for the Israeli government to suggest the forced-deportation of Palestinians.

“As another commenter wrote: “The true worry is the way in which any criticism of the Israeli Government, its policies and its support of the illegal settlements in Palestinian territory (as defined by the UN) attracts screams of anti semitism from the apologists and supporters of the Israeli Government etc.

““Immoderate, screamed accusations are a determined attempt to shut down any reasoned argument critical of Israeli Government policies. They are not anti Semitic but many people feel constrained and choose to mute their criticism for fear of unjustified accusation of anti semitism.

““Anti semitism is wrong and bigoted and aimed at people based on their racial origins. It is undemocratic and unsocialist and I condemn it entirely. Criticism of a government policy is legitimate political argument and I encourage it wholeheartedly.

““This idea that Israel should be immune from criticism from any source including from Jews in Israel who take a different view and vote for opposition parties is patently absurd. Whenever any attempt is made to discuss what is happening in either Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territories then a blizzard of attacks are made claiming the criticism comes from an antisemite.

““This determined attempt to shut down critical debate debases the legitimacy of any real claim of anti semitism. Those supporters of the Israel Government really must understand that political commentary about real world actions such as the illegal settlements or the fence that has been erected, for example, is not anti-Semitic. Similar criticism is being made by the same people of human rights abuses by many other states of differing political make up. Eg Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Russia, Liberia etc etc. This doesn’t make the authors anti-Muslim, anti-communist, anti-African.

““All governments must be open to public criticism and trolls who are attempting to shut down debate are doing everyone a disservice.””

In my questions during the hearing, I pointed out that the NEC had put forward no evidence in support of any claim that the image was anti-Semitic in its nature, and tried to get an admission that – without such proof – the NCC must accept that the image is not anti-Semitic.

I also wanted to run through every example of anti-Semitism provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance alongside its definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted in full by the Labour Party – but Maggie Cousins, chairing the panel, blocked me from asking these questions. Apparently she had a train to catch at 4pm and this was more important than justice.

I also asked if it was accepted that the article makes no mention of Jews using the term “anti-Semitic” falsely, but I was told this was not relevant as the issue was about whether a right-thinking person might perceive the headline as doing that. This is not true – the charge against me was that I “repeatedly posted content propogating the conspiracy that secretive networks of Jews control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions” and use “language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self identify as they wish”. There is no mention in the charge of me being guilty of allowing people to perceive my articles, their headlines or the images they contain in any way at all and to be honest it would be entirely unfair of Labour to suggest such a thing as I cannot help what people say about my articles after they have been published. No writer can.

Yet that is what Labour has done.

So:

I was right about the origin of the image and the intentions behind it.

I was right to say it is not anti-Semitic and had the support of an authoritative Jewish academic.

The Labour Party’s accusation did not refer to the image but to a headline describing it – and I was right to describe that headline in the way I had.

It is worth going back and adding one more point about Redress Online: It may be true that that website is populated with anti-Semitic articles, written by anti-Semites. That does not mean investigators seeking facts should ignore it when it is the location of those facts. My argument is that the police would not ignore valuable information in a criminal investigation, just because it came from other criminals. If it is important, verifiable information, then it should be used – otherwise the investigation is likely to reach a false conclusion and the course of justice is likely to be perverted.

In trying to discredit the evidence, is that what my critics want?

Such behaviour would be utterly reprehensible.

But I wasn’t charged in relation to that, so in any case there is no substance to the charge.

The reference to Redress Online was an attempt at guilt through association, which is a false argument. Just because I found the evidence I needed there doesn’t mean I approve of the site as a whole or any of its writers. I traced the image to that site and, checking its context, found no anti-Semitic content. My opinion is corroborated by Norman Finkelstein, who is Jewish and therefore should know.

So Mr Pitt’s argument falls.

And the particular (as it was described) of the charge against me should also have fallen, as it was not proved that I had “used language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self-identify as they wish”.

But Labour’s NCC panel still said the claim was proved.

That was a common failing.

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Labour’s kangaroo court issues details of its finding against me – and they don’t even match the charge

Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn probably thought he could trust senior members of the Labour Party to handle disciplinary procedures impartially. If so, he was mistaken. Now look at the mess they’ve caused.

What a farce!

Today I received a letter from the secretary of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, giving its reasons for saying the charges of anti-Semitism against me were proved.

Of course, they are meaningless.

The letter states:

“Upon the balance of probabilities the charge was proved for reasons including:

  • It was not disputed that you were responsible for the posting the content that the NEC claimed breached Labour Party rules;
  • A reasonable person would find the posted content, that is the basis of the NEC’s charge, to have the propensity to cause offence, be regarded as abusive and make some feel discriminated against;
  • In posting the content you breached the Labour Party’s Antisemitism and other forms of racism code of conduct, Social Media Policy and Member’s Pledge in appendix 9 of the Rule Book.”

Unfortunately none of the above proves the particulars of the charge against me. In fact, all it proves is that whoever complained to the Labour Party about me in the first place – back in May 2017 – had said they were offended by it, that they felt it was abusive, and that they felt I had discriminated against them.

And there can be a huge difference between saying a thing and actually meaning it – especially considering the fact that the accusation was deliberately timed to interfere with my campaign for election onto Powys County Council.

Also, I wonder what the many tens of thousands of reasonable Vox Political readers – who have read the material in question and don’t consider it to be offensive, abusive or discriminatory – think of what the NCC panel has implied about them. Are you one such reader? How do you feel about the NCC claiming you’re not reasonable?

Let us remind ourselves of the particulars of the charge against me:

“Mr Sivier has repeatedly posted content propogating the conspiracy that secretive networks of Jews control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions. He uses language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self-identify as they wish. This falls fairly and squarely within the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which the Labour Party has adopted.”

During the hearing, I proved conclusively that I had not supported any nonsense about a “global Jewish conspiracy”, nor had I used language that is dismissive of anti-Semitism or that denied Jews the right to self-identify. And none of the words forming the basis of the NEC’s complaint fitted even tangentially within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

The NCC couldn’t suggest otherwise, so instead it seems the panel came up with the tripe in the letter.

The difference between what’s said in the letter and in the charge is the same as the difference between claiming something and proving it.

I should be grateful. The letter proves two things:

I am not an anti-Semite (the letter makes no suggestion of any hatred towards Jews, simply because they are Jewish) – and Labour’s National Constitutional Committee is a laughing-stock.

Still, there is a serious side to this.

We are currently in the middle of a crisis, engineered by the Conservative government, around Brexit – and Labour is hoping to recruit more members into the Party, possibly to help fight a snap general election.

Here’s an advert from Twitter:

But why would anybody want to join an organisation whose internal procedures are prejudiced against rank-and-file members such as myself?

And why would they want to support a party into government that cannot even root out corruption in its own internal procedures?

It seems clear that Labour has a serious credibility problem, as long as it allows its disciplinary procedures to be run in the corrupt and prejudicial manner demonstrated by my own case.

Worse still, as there is no right of appeal, it seems there is no way the party can cancel its false finding against me.

Still, the difference between the charge and the rationale for the verdict puts Labour in a highly actionable position, so perhaps we will be able to sort out this mess in court.

The timing is unfortunate, as the party undoubtedly wants to gain ground with the electorate at a time of chaos within the ranks of the Conservatives, but I can’t help that.

Remember Blackstone’s ratio? “The law holds that it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”? I am innocent of the charges against me, but allow me to assure you that although I may present a composed exterior, it is extremely distressing to face accusations of anti-Semitism – especially for the more-than-18-months this has been going on.

If Labour really wanted to gain credibility now, the party’s leaders should have thought very carefully before inflicting this particular injustice on this particular man.

They’d better do something about it quickly – don’t you agree?

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Even superhero creator Stan Lee couldn’t save me from Labour’s fake anti-Semitism rap

Even the words of the great (Jewish) comics legend Stan Lee could not sway Labour’s disciplinary panel into accepting that Vox Political’s Mike Sivier isn’t an anti-Semite.

What a travesty!

If that is the standard of evidence on which the Labour Party has been expelling members for alleged anti-Semitism, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a wholesale thinning of the membership.

As you can probably guess, today (November 13) was the date of my disciplinary hearing with a tribunal from Labour’s National Constitutional Committee. It related to a charge of anti-Semitism that had been hanging over me since May 2017. And the panel found against me.

Did I mention I’m crowdfunding for court action to fight the false claims of anti-Semitism against me? As Labour leaked false information about me to the press in February, the party is vulnerable to an action for defamation. Please visit my page and contribute as much as you can spare. 

There were seven “particulars” of the charge, and I arrived to be told that there was no need to go over the Presenter’s (it’s not a court so they’re not the prosecution) case and we could proceed straight to the questions.

I had an awful lot of questions. More than 200, in fact. I wanted to find out whether there were any facts behind the accusations against me.

And we did find out, didn’t we? There was absolutely no factual evidence supporting any of the claims against me.

Zero.

Zip.

Nada.

To questions that tried to determine where, in the evidence, there was proof that my use of quotation marks (around “anti-Semitism”) was anti-Semitic, or that tried to ascertain why an article about the Israeli Embassy scandal of a couple of years ago was being used to suggest I was pushing forward the anti-Semitic “global Jewish conspiracy” stereotype, what answers do you think I received?

“No comment.”

“We’ve not provided evidence; it’s about the impact in the public domain.”

“This is about perception… It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”

“You’re going into technicalities.”

“That is not relevant.” (This was actually used in response to a question about the words in one of the allegations against me – and also in response to a question about whether one of the facts I had quoted was true, so the facts were not materially relevant to this case; think about that.)

One of the questions related to the racist abuse suffered by fellow Labour Party member Jackie Walker at the hands of false accusers who were also said to have claimed the Nazi Holocaust exclusively for Jews. When I tried to explore the validity of the claims against me, I was told (by the panel’s chair, Maggie Cousins, who appears to have ‘form’ when it comes to interrupting proceedings before they turn in favour of the accused and who also seemed far more interested in catching her four o’clock train than in justice) that it was inappropriate to discuss another case. I wasn’t the one who had raised it!

(For more on Ms Cousins, see how she contributed to the expulsion from Labour of the son of two Nazi holocaust survivors.)

I asked why we could not talk about it and was told members of the panel may be hearing that case as well, so I pointed out that I had requested that the panel not include any members who had a conflict of interest due to any item of evidence. Then I was told that no such conflict of interest existed. So what was the problem?

I’ll tell you: The problem was the panel’s chairperson did not want to have to admit that, in this matter, the Labour Party’s controlling committee was apparently supporting the racist abuse of one of its members. I’ll explain more in a future article.

As for whether it was anti-Semitic – Holocaust denial – to suggest that anybody had claimed the Nazi Holocaust exclusively for Jews, I asked if the NEC had carried out any research into whether campaigners had made such a claim and the answer was, “No.” have carried out such research and there’s surprisingly much of it about. I’ll explain more in a future article.

How about this comment from the Presenter: “Whether your comments are anti-Semitic is neither here nor there.”

Or this: “Your intentions are not relevant.”

You can see that they were angling that the way my words were perceived by other people was said to be the issue. The problem is, other people can say whatever they like about my words; it is whether their comments have any validity that I was trying to ascertain – and that, it seemed to me, the panel was trying to hide.

I made the point that it is very dangerous for the Labour Party to try to talk down to members – and voters – about how my articles (or anybody else’s words) should be perceived. It is for members of the public to make up their own minds. Attempts to dictate to people will make them feel patronised.

“The NEC is not here to police what people say.”

But the NCC was, it seems – as became clear over the four hours following that statement. When the panel had a chance to question me on my evidence, it was all about whether members of the Labour Party should be discussing emotive matters like anti-Semitism in public. My point that these matters were in the public domain in any case, and that it is the responsibility of Labour members to counter false claims wherever we find them (or to accept valid points in order to improve the party’s policies, procedures and offer to members), fell on deaf ears.

By the end of the hearing, the issue of anti-Semitism had been left far behind and the matter at hand was whether the Labour Party’s ruling committee has a right to gag members. In my closing statement, I argued passionately that this was a terrible idea because it would leave the public arena to the party’s critics, who would – of course – have free rein to influence public opinion in whatever way they chose, to the detriment of Labour and against the interests of the UK.

Deaf ears.

There was some urgency to get me to say I would consider re-education on anti-Semitism – which I rejected out of hand, something like four times during the course of the day.

The panel retired to consider its verdict and, on its return, said that on the balance of probabilities the charges against me were proved. With what – thin air? Did I have anything to say in mitigation?

I said: “No mitigation. The charges are false. I am innocent.”

This seemed to set the cat among the pigeons because the panel took another half an hour to come to its decision to rescind my party membership for 18 months, following which I would be able to reapply to join.

That’s not exactly a resounding condemnation, is it?

Oh – but I was going to talk about Stan.

After I finished referring to the evidence in my closing statement I expressed regret that I had been forced to discuss the issues of the case, because I had put together a nice speech about my own beliefs, prompted by the death of superhero comics creater Stan Lee on November 12. I asked if the panel wanted to hear it anyway and the members didn’t seem opposed so I gave it to them:

“Stan is best known to the world as the creator of the Marvel superhero universe, that has entertained generations of comic-book readers in the 20th century and led to some of the biggest movie blockbusters of the 21st.

“He created the X-Men, a series that has the struggle against racism – of any kind – as its central theme, and some may think that is reason enough to mention him here.

“But his most famous character is Spider-Man, the bullied schoolboy who gains fantastic abilities and uses them, not to make easy money or achieve easy romantic success, but to stand up for the poor, the weak, those who cannot defend themselves because, as Stan put it, “With great power comes great responsibility”. That is a message I certainly hope the members of the panel take to heart today.

“Stan always made it clear that, although his protagonists wore masks, it was the actions of the human beings behind those masks that made them heroic – their choice to do things, not because they were easy, but because they were hard.

“He had a huge effect on my life – as a young reader of Stan’s work, I learned these lessons well, and they have deeply affected my work as an adult.

“An obvious example would be the two years I spend forcing the Conservative government to release its statistics on the number of people who have died after being forced off sickness benefits under the work capability assessment system. Many people thought I should give up but I persevered – not because it was easy but because it was hard. And I won. And the scandal of the homicidal Tory benefit system has been big news ever since.

“Another example might be this case, and my determination to show that it is perfectly reasonable to discuss the subjects mentioned today, in the ways I have discussed them, without expecting to be accused of wrong-doing.

“I owe my determination to do what’s right, even when it seems an impossible struggle, to Stan.

“If you’re asking why that is important to this hearing, I’ll tell you:

“Stan Lee was Jewish.

“His real name was Stanley Martin Lieber. Like his collaborator Jack Kirby (or Jacob Kurtzberg) and other contemporaries, he was one of a generation of Jews who built up the US comics industry from the 1940s onwards.

“Stan wrote an editorial that is relevant to today’s proceedings, that was published in Marvel comics in 1968 – before I was even born. A friend put it up on Facebook last night; it covers the subject that concerns us today and reflects my own feelings.

“He wrote: “Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them – to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater – one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen – people he’s never known – with equal intensity – with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God – a God who calls us ALL – His children.

“”Pax et justitia,

“”Stan.”

“They’re his words, but my thoughts too. It IS totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion. We MUST learn to judge each other on our own merits – as I was doing when I wrote the articles that form the basis of the complaints against me today.

“Using those words to combat the evils we have discussed may not be the best way to pay tribute to Stan, but it’s the best I can do.”

Of course, I was saying that a person who had been so profoundly influenced for the positive, by a person who was well-known as a Jew, could not possibly be an anti-Semite.

Deaf ears.

Even Stan Lee couldn’t make a speech heroic enough to sway a tribunal that seemed to have made up its collective mind before the hearing started.

So allow me to remind you that I have a crowdfunding page and you are invited to contribute – if you have an interest in justice.

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At last – hearing set for Vox Political writer to defend against Labour’s false accusation of anti-Semitism

Mike Sivier (right) with the late, great Tony Benn.

It has taken more than 18 months but at last This Writer will be given the opportunity to explain why accusations of anti-Semitism, made against me by the Labour Party, are a lot of hysterical nonsense.

A disciplinary hearing involving a panel of National Constitutional Committee members will be held on November 13, at a venue in Mid Wales. The NCC was forced to come to me because I am a carer and must be near Mrs Mike, in line with the “reasonable adjustments” described in the Equality Act 2010.

Labour’s charge against me is that I have “repeatedly” posted articles on This Site that support the false claim that there is an “international conspiracy of Jews” that “control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions”.

Of course I have never suggested any such thing.

Those of you who follow the social media will note the irony of such a matter being discussed so soon after the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews was exposed as having made exactly such a suggestion herself.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted a source who said: “In what world do you use the words ‘Jewish community’ and ‘power’ in the same sentence?

“The community has spent months highlighting antisemitic tropes and then the President of the Board of Deputies herself says Jews have power which they learn how to use.

“I don’t know what’s worse — that this was a spur of the moment comment or that it was actually planned?”

I doubt Marie van der Zyl is a member of the Labour Party but look forward to seeing Labour refusing to deal with her on the grounds that she is an anti-Semite.

The charge against me is supported by seven “particulars” – the actual details on which the case will be judged – five of which have no relation to the stated accusation.

I can’t go into further details now.

But my case has already been discussed widely. Labour’s NEC already found me guilty, at a meeting to which I was not invited and based on false evidence that was leaked to a national newspaper after I refused to accept the verdict. Needless to say, several of the papers who published that story have been penalised after I complained to the press regulator, IPSO.

I relish the opportunity to set the record straight, once and for all.

Afterwards, I intend to take legal action – that’s court procedures, for those including the member of the Campaign Against Antisemitism who suggested I had been considering illegal action – against those people and organisations who have tarnished my good name with these smears for more than a year and a half.

I am not a rich man, so I have launched a crowdfunding scheme that appeals for supporters and members of the public to support my bid for justice with a donation – large or small, I don’t mind.

Please visit my JustGiving site if you can help.

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Gwynne seeks to ‘lower expectations’ for Labour in local elections – because of Wadsworth expulsion?

Damage control: Andrew Gwynne.

Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne has tried to reduce expectations of a Labour landslide at the local elections on Thursday, in the wake of a decision to expel a prominent black anti-racist campaign – for racism.

This Site reported that black and ethnic minority representatives had responded with outrage after Labour’s National Constitutional Committee expelled Marc Wadsworth – apparently on the flimsier-than-tissue-paper basis that anti-Semitic intent could be inferred if someone hearing what he said at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report in June 2016 felt that it was.

The Guardian reported:

“Gwynne also sought to lower expectations ahead of the local elections on Thursday. He said: ‘We’re predicting that because these were high watermark years when these seats were last fought in 2014, that it’s probably going to be difficult to get anything like that.

“’We’ve never ever held the City of Westminster, we last held Wandsworth in 1978. If we took those it would be a spectacular night.

“’I am confident that we will have a good night – I don’t think it will be anything like some of the opinion polls would suggest because we are already defending about 80% of the seats in some of those metropolitan boroughs and London boroughs – we’re already at a high watermark.’”

It seems clear that he is trying to manage expectations downward – and This Writer would suggest this is a rather desperate attempt to mitigate the effect of the NCC’s disastrous decision to turn BAME voters against the party.

His words also suggest – as I speculated in my previous article – that there is no mechanism available to the Labour leadership to reverse the NCC’s perverse and unjust decision before Thursday, thereby restoring confidence that the Labour Party still supports fairness and justice.

It won’t be enough. I wonder what the official Labour line will be tomorrow – and why aren’t right-whingers like Ruth Smeeth who prompted this disaster speaking up about what they’ve done? They seemed proud enough on Friday.


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Wadsworth expulsion: Did Labour just throw away its chance to take London?

Jeremy Corbyn: Can he talk his way out of this tight corner?

Labour made a huge mistake on Friday.

After 40 white people escorted another white person to the hearing in what looked like a lynch mob, a panel composed entirely of white people found an innocent anti-racism campaigner – who happened to be black – guilty of a form of racism.

Just on the face of it, that makes Labour look like the racist party.

We are told the verdict on the allegations of anti-Semitism facing Marc Wadsworth went against the evidence.

According to Grassroots Black Left, “The panel … ruled the case against Wadsworth could be proven based on solely on the perception by some people that what he said at the launch of the Charkrabarti report on June 30, 2016 was anti-semitism.”

That would certainly run against the meaning of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism to which Labour has subscribed. That document states that anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews”; it is not behaviour that may be inferred as offensive by Jews.

In other words, according to the definition which Labour supports, a person’s behaviour should not be deemed anti-Semitic because someone else took offence at it; it would have to be informed by, and motivated by, hatred towards Jews.

And criticism of an individual Jewish person, or a group of them, should not raise accusations of anti-Semitism unless it is informed by hatred towards all Jews. Such criticism may be entirely reasonable, depending on the evidence supporting it.

So the decision against Marc Wadsworth is doubly wrong. And it could jeopardise Labour’s ambitions in the local elections taking place on May 3.

Black and minority ethnic people are infuriated, and you can see why.

As one commenter to This Site put it: “To see Marc Wadsworth shouted down for daring to express an opinion, “How dare you, how absolutely dare you,” like [a] servant being berated by the white mistress of the house, makes me shudder. Do they ever think how much courage it takes for a black person to stand up and speak honestly in a room full of powerful white people?”

And then the Labour Party expects black people to come out and vote it into power in councils across London.

It has been suggested that New Labour expected black and minority ethnic people to vote for the party because they had nowhere else to go. That assumption was wrong; they just stopped voting.

The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn gave them a reason to start voting again – and for Labour.

But the Wadsworth decision suggests that Labour will not support the BAME community; that Labour does not support justice.

In that case, why should the BAME community support Labour?

The party has painted itself into a corner in an attempt to appease liars.

I do not know if there is a mechanism in place that can reverse the damage before Thursday.

If not, I hesitate to speculate on how much harm the NCC panel, Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting and the posse of MPs and Lords who supported her at the hearing have done to the people of the United Kingdom.


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