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Bradford MP David Ward ‘at a loss’ in new party inquiry
Bradford East MP David Ward has insisted he has done nothing wrong – after Liberal Democrat chiefs ordered a fresh probe over his “the Jews” comments.
Mr Ward has been summoned to a second meeting with the Lib Dem chief whip on Monday, as the row rumbles on into a third week.
Party chiefs are unhappy that Mr Ward might have broken a written undertaking not to repeat the phrase “the Jews” in the context of actions by the Israeli government.
This week, the MP took part in an e-mail exchange with the Jewish News newspaper during which he asked if he should change the wording to read “the Jewish community”.
A Lib Dem spokesman said Mr Ward would meet Alistair Carmichael, the chief whip, on Monday, for “further decisions”, adding: “We are fully aware of the latest comments,”
But, speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, the Bradford East MP said, of the latest row: “I really don’t understand it – I’m at a loss.”
Mr Ward explained that he had genuinely been attempting to find a way forward, to avoid any possible further offence – pointing out that the newspaper had contacted him.
He said: “I apologised for using the term that some regarded as offensive, but said I would continue to speak about what’s happening in Israel and its relationship with the Palestinians.
“So I asked if the reporter could find out what term the Board of Deputies considers would be a suitable term, that was not going to offend anyone.
“I don’t want to break the agreement I made, so I asked what I could say to avoid being offensive. I don’t see how I could be more fair-minded?”
The controversy first blew up when Mr Ward posted a message on his website, after signing a memorial book to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
He wrote that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new state of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis”.
It is understood that the Lib Dem chief whip called a meeting, on Thursday, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Holocaust Educational Trust.
A statement issued by the groups afterwards said they had been assured that the new comments would be “dealt with as a fresh issue” by the party.