Ward lashes out at party's disciplinary procedures

MP David Ward with Nick Clegg in April 2010

MP David Ward with Nick Clegg in April 2010

First published in News

David Ward has lashed out at his Liberal Democrat bosses – accusing them of wrongly claiming he has been ordered to attend “language classes”.

The Bradford East MP insisted no such punishment had been imposed, following his controversial comments about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Mr Ward also said it was his understanding that any disciplinary process was now over – despite the Lib Dem chief whip stating it was merely “adjourned”.

And he spoke of his “anger” at the way the issue had been handled, not disputing that Lib Dem party procedures had been exposed as shambolic.

The MP told the T&A: “I’m very disappointed and angry about this, because what has been said does not reflect what I believe was decided.

“And, as someone who has run race awareness classes, I find the idea that I have been sent on some sort of correctionary course to be patronising and quite offensive.”

The comments risk a fresh storm over Mr Ward’s condemnation of “the Jews” in Israel for “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians…..on a daily basis”, made on his website. And they are particularly high-risk, because the latest disciplinary meeting – on Tuesday – was attended by both leader Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes, the deputy leader.

Afterwards, a letter was released to the media by chief whip Alistair Carmichael, setting out the next steps Mr Ward had agreed to take.

It stated he would work with Lib Dem Friends of Israel to “identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise in your future interventions in this debate”.

Mr Carmichael wrote: “I am not clear how much time this work will require, although it will involve other people making time available to work with you and their availability is at present unknown. In the circumstances, therefore, the disciplinary process currently stands adjourned and a date will require to be fixed at which progress can be reviewed and it can be concluded.” But Mr Ward said he had not been shown the letter before its release and, therefore, had not agreed to its contents. He will meet with a Lib Dem Friends of Israel representative next week, but insisted the act was voluntary.

Mr Ward said his next step was to ask Mr Clegg for his recollections of the meeting. And he said: “The way the party deals with complaints needs to be looked at. I have never been shown any evidence that there was an original complaint against me”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI) threw doubt on next week’s meeting – attacking Mr Ward for failing to remove the original post from his website.

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