In a success for Campaign Against Antisemitism, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has accepted that comments made by Nazim Ali, a pharmacist and leader of the annual Al Quds Day rally, were antisemitic.
The GPhC has also confirmed that it will not contest an appeal brought at Campaign Against Antisemitism’s behest by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) over a previous decision to let Mr Ali off with a formal warning over his comments at the rally in 2017.
Last year, 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. However, the GPhC panel did not find that he had been antisemitic and let him off with just a formal warning.
Following the GPhC’s ruling, Campaign Against Antisemitism made representations to the PSA, which oversees disciplinary decisions made by the GPhC. We asked the PSA to use its statutory power to appeal the GPhC’s decision 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 panel was insufficient to protect the public because it was “irrational and perverse”.
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, which has been 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” in the legal sense because of their “selective view of events”.
The PSA made the referral that we requested, opening the way for the High Court to decide whether to quash the GPhC panel’s decision, leading to the matter being re-opened.
However, the Chief Executive of the GPhC has now told Campaign Against Antisemitism that the regulator “took the view, and still does, that the comments were antisemitic.” He confirmed that the GPhC does not intend to contest the PSA’s appeal to the High Court, accepts that Mr Ali’s comments were indeed antisemitic and that the GPhC panel’s decision was inadequate and wrong, and that it intends to leave Mr Ali to defend the decision himself in the High Court if he wishes to do so. The GPhC has suggested to the High Court that it might consider the option of making a decision on the matter itself rather than returning it to the GPhC for another fitness to practice hearing.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “We commend the GPhC for recognising that the original ruling by its Fitness to Practise panel was badly flawed and for taking the necessary steps to correct it. It is absolutely right to recognise that Nazim Ali’s comments were antisemitic and that the panel’s decision and sanction were inadequate and wrong. The road to justice in this case has proved long and winding, but we are again heading in the right direction. It is important that we are unrelenting in pursuit of such cases.”
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.”
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.