The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has asked the High Court to quash a decision of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), over its decision in relation to Nazim Ali, a pharmacist who leads the annual “Al Quds Day” march through London.
Last month, the GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee, found that Mr Ali brought the pharmaceutical profession into disrepute, following a two-week hearing that culminated on 5th November arising from a complaint by Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Following the GPhC’s ruling, Campaign Against Antisemitism made legal representations to the PSA asking it to use its statutory power to refer the matter to the High Court under the National Health Service Reform and Healthcare Professionals Act 2002, on the grounds that the decision made by the GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee was insufficient to protect the public because it was “irrational and perverse”.
The PSA has now made the referral that we requested. The High Court will now decide whether to quash the decision of the GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee, leading to the matter being re-opened.
In particular, we asked the PSA to review the GPhC’s ruling that Mr Ali’s statements were not antisemitic, including by attempting to distinguish between “antisemitism” and “antisemitic”. We have asked the PSA to consider the International Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the British Government, and the Guidance to all Judiciary in England and Wales produced by the Judicial College that makes clear that the word “Zionist” or “Zio” as a term of abuse has no place in a civilised society.
Furthermore, we argued that the ruling misapplied the law when asking whether a “reasonable person” would have considered the comments made by Mr Ali as being antisemitic. The GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee ruled that Jewish bystanders who saw the demonstration or watched the recording of it posted online could not be considered to be reasonable persons because of their “selective view of events”.
Campaign Against Antisemitism made its initial complaint to the GPhC related to Mr Ali’s actions in 2017, when he led the pro-Hizballah “Al Quds Day” parade for the controversial London-based organisation calling itself the Islamic Human Rights Commission, just four days after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in which over 70 people were burned alive.
Heading the parade, surrounded by the flags of Hizballah, the genocidal antisemitic terrorist organisation, Mr Ali shouted over a public address system: “Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party. Free, Free, Palestine…It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high-rise blocks. Free, Free, Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
At another point he told marchers: “Careful of those Rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies, who have got blood on their hands, who agree with the killing of British soldiers. Do not allow them in your centres.”
The events were filmed by members of Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Demonstration and Event Monitoring Unit.
Mr Ali is the Managing Partner of Chelsea Pharmacy Medical Clinic. Campaign Against Antisemitism submitted a complaint to the GPhC, which confirmed that the matter “calls into question the pharmacy professional’s fitness to practise as a pharmacist.”
The Professional Standards Authority told Campaign Against Antisemitism: “The Authority has decided to refer the decision to the High Court because we considered that it may be insufficient to protect the public. The Authority was concerned that the Committee had erred in its approach to a charge that the comments made by Mr Ali were antisemitic. Those errors mean that it is not possible to know whether a different outcome would have been reached in the case had the correct approach been taken, and that therefore decision taken by the Committee was not sufficient to protect the public. For that reason the Authority, by its appeal, is asking the Court to quash findings made by the Committee and remit the case back to the Committee for reconsideration, applying the correct approach to the charge of antisemitism. The appeal has now been lodged with the court.”
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Since 2017, we have fought to ensure that Nazim Ali faces the consequences of his actions. As a pharmacist, he is bound by professional rules, and we are pleased that due to our complaint his regulator ruled that he brought his profession into disrepute.
“However, the ruling was deeply flawed, finding Mr Ali’s remarks not to be antisemitic, and considering Jewish bystanders not to be reasonable persons. This was irrational and perverse in the extreme, so we instructed lawyers to ensure that it cannot be allowed to stand due to the example that it sets. Not only that, but the decision to merely issue Mr Ali with a warning was insufficient to protect the public. That is why we asked the PSA to refer this matter to the High Court, and we are delighted that they have now done so.
“There was no way that we could allow this decision to stand due to the dangerous precedent that it set both for British Jews and the public which relies on healthcare professionals to be properly regulated.”
We are extremely grateful to Simon Braun, a partner at Perrin Myddelton solicitors, for acting pro bono for Campaign Against Antisemitism in this matter.
Campaign Against Antisemitism previously sought a criminal prosecution of Mr Ali. When the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to prosecute him, we launched a private prosecution which the CPS disgracefully used its statutory powers to take over and discontinue, protecting Mr Ali from prosecution.