On 20th November 2019, it was reported that Mr Rafiq had been suspended by the Liberal Democrats. A spokesperson was reported to have indicated that Mr Rafiq would be removed from all roles within the Party and would no longer receive the Party’s backing during his election campaign.
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson reportedly said: “At 3pm Waheed Rafiq Hodge Hill PPC was suspended from the party. The public posts on his Facebook and Twitter account from 2010 to 2014 are clearly and unambiguously antisemitic and bring the party into disrepute and are also of material disagreement with the fundamental values and objectives of the Party.”
Mr Rafiq was reported to have commented: “I am absolutely shocked and horrified that I am being left alone in the dark to deal with the Press as, I have had BBC, Skynews [sic], ITV, GEO News, Press TV and many more trying to get in touch with me to reply back with regards to Liberal Democrat suspending me from the party. I can confirm that those comments are mind [sic] and I honestly don’t see them as anti-semitic [sic] because the public need to know the fully story.”
On 21st November 2019, it was reported that Mr Rafiq would still stand in the election as it was too late to nominate another candidate. It was further reported that Mr Rafiq had claimed that his Twitter and Facebook accounts had been “hacked”, saying: “It has not been confirmed to me by the party that I have been suspended, though I can understand the party’s position in terms of wanting to distance themselves from someone who has the type of character these remarks imply. But they are not my remarks and I will be asking Facebook and Twitter to investigate.”
It was also reported that Mr Rafiq had expressed his intention to appeal against his suspension.
In September 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to both Mr Rafiq and the Liberal Democrats. Mr Rafiq responded by supplying his final press release from November 2019, in which he insisted that he had never been antisemitic or racist, but expressed regret for his posts, saying: “I fully understand that those Facebook feeds [sic] were offensive to the Jewish community especially the cartoon which was [forwarded] to me by another associate…For this I am humbly apologising to the Jewish community.” He also expressed his intention to visit Israel in 2020 “to further support Israel in the peace process.”
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “Antisemitism is abhorrent and has no place in society. The Liberal Democrats therefore take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously. Following remorse expressed by Mr Rafiq, an independent investigation panel concluded he must provide evidence of undertaking extensive antisemitism training and wait 10 years before being considered to hold a position in the Party.”