The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, has written to Campaign Against Antisemitism to say that she will not investigate the antisemitic comments made by Sir Gerald Kaufman in a speech because she does not believe that they bring the House of Commons or its members into disrepute.
Campaign Against Antisemitism had sent a complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards under clause 16 of the Parliamentary Rules of Conduct for MPs which states: “Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally.”
At a meeting last week at 1 Parliament Street, David Collier, a blogger who attended a meeting of the Palestine Return Centre, said that Kaufman claimed that “Jewish money, Jewish donations” dictate government policy on Israel. Kaufman reportedly began his speech by claiming that the wave of antisemitic stabbings in Israel which has seen Jews stabbed, axed, run over and shot in the streets for being Jews, was “fabricated”.
Kaufman’s claim that British Jews use “Jewish money” to subvert the government so that Israeli Jews may shoot innocent people combines antisemitic conspiracy theory with antisemitic blood libel. The fact that Kaufman, who is known as the Father of the House as the longest standing MP, made such comments and the fact that other MPs sat in taciturn acceptance of those comments patently brings the House into disrepute. How are Jewish people supposed to have faith in an institution whose members engage in such conduct?
We are appalled that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has examined the evidence put before her and found that the offence is not sufficiently grave to merit action.
All eyes must now return to the Labour Party itself, which we and others have asked to take disciplinary action. We remain in contact with the Labour Party which has so far only confirmed that the Opposition Chief Whip has met Kaufman today to “discuss” his comments, but not that disciplinary action is being taken.
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards’ Letter
Dear Mr Falter,
Mrs Harrison has forwarded to me her email exchanges with you. I have reviewed them very carefully and can confirm that she is correct. Generally, I may not look into complaints about the expression of a Member’s views and opinions and the bar for bringing such complaints into my remit is a high one.
I understand the distinction you seek to draw between the expression of views and opinions on the Middle East conflict and the words used by Sir Gerald to explain the position of the UK government. However, I agree with Mrs Harrison that this was an expression of his views and opinions – reflecting his interpretation of events – and so your allegation is caught by the general bar on my investigating complaints about the expression of views and opinions.
While many will disagree profoundly with Sir Gerald’s words, I do not consider that that in itself means they reflect either on the House as a whole or on its Members generally.
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
Extracts from Sir Gerald Kaufman’s Speech