The BBC is embroiled in a scandal after it gave a platform to, Abdullah Patel, an Imam who made several appalling posts on Twitter. Mr Patel, speaking from a BBC studio in Bristol, during the Conservative Party leadership debate last night, questioned and warned the leadership candidates about hate speech, telling them that “words have consequences.”
After the debate, the political blog Guido Fawkes revealed that Mr Patel, had made a series of outrageous posts on Twitter. His account has now been deleted.
It emerged that Mr Patel posted the same image advocating the transport of the Jewish state to the United States that resulted in the suspension of Naz Shah from the Labour Party.
He also tweeted that: “Every political figure on the Zionist’s [sic] payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn. They don’t like him. He seems best suited to tackle them!”
Stephen Daisley, blogging in the Spectator, uncovered more damning tweets, including: “How long are the Zionists going to hide behind the Holocaust cry? It was a tragedy, but Gaza today is a repeat of the oppression.” Another tweet described “the concentration camp in Gaza is the modern day Auschwitz.” Under the International Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the British Government, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is antisemitic.
He also claimed that “antisemitism is being abused by the right, to push their own agenda.”
When his antisemitic social media activity was exposed, Mr Patel told the BBC in Gloucester that he could not remember all of his tweets but defended his posts, saying: “I have not criticised the Jewish community. Criticism of Israel is not the same as criticism of Jews.” He continued that he was “100 percent sure” there were no tweets criticising Jewish people but said he would stand by messages critical of Israel’s policies.
Mr Patel was also invited on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning after his participation in the debate. Following the revelation, the BBC presenter, Nicky Campbell, tweeted: “I would like to apologise. We had the Imam from the BBC Tory leadership debate on our programme this morning. His social media comments have been extremely disturbing. We should have checked. We didn’t. I’m sorry.”
The BBC News Press Team also tweeted a statement claiming it had “missed Mr Patel’s comments because they were on a Twitter account that was deactivated at the time but he reactivated it after the programme.” They added: “Had we been aware of the views he expressed there, he would not have been selected.”
However, Guido reported that Twitter users were replying to his Twitter account over the weekend, raising questions about when the BBC actually did its supposed vetting. Rob Burley, an Editor at BBC Live Political Programmes, claimed in a tweet that: “We checked his social media on Monday.”
Mr Patel is the deputy head of a primary school in Gloucester. The school has announced that it has suspended him, pending an investigation. Mr Yakub Patel, Chair of Al-Madani Educational Trust, said in a statement: “Following some of the comments attributed to Mr Patel in the media this morning, the Trust has decided to suspend him from all school duties with immediate effect until a full investigation is carried out. The ‘school’ and ‘Trust’ do not share the views attributed to him.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism is extremely concerned that such an individual was given a national platform. We are following the investigation by Al-Madani Educational Trust with interest and we are seeking confirmation that the case will be referred to the Teaching Regulation Authority.
Correction: A tweet about this case suggested that Mr Patel should also be referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority as well as the Teaching Regulation Agency. We only seek referral to the Teaching Regulation Agency as Mr Patel is not a solicitor.