SACKED Liberal Democrat candidate David Ward is to run as an independent in a bid to clear his name of anti-Semitism allegations, he has said.
Mr Ward, who was MP for Bradford East from 2010 to 2015, and is currently suspended from the party, also launched an astonishing attack on its leader Tim Farron, accusing him of having a “love affair with the state of Israel”.
He said: “You just have to look at some of the comments that have been made by the party leader, which are really despicable. I have been accused of being someone who hates Jews.”
Mr Ward, an outspoken critic of Israel and supporter of the Palestinian cause, said he had now “more or less” made up his mind to stand as an independent in Bradford East.
He said: “I believe in freedom of speech and I hope people believe I have a right to say the things I have to say, even if they don’t agree with them.”
He also reiterated his claim that the state of Israel and its supporters had been behind his deselection.
He said: “I think that I have got a big contribution still to make.
“I hope people feel I made a bit of a difference and did the job well last time and if I can’t do it as a Lib Dem I can do it as an independent.
“It’s not really about party politics, it’s about whether someone has the right to be a candidate in a British election when undue influence has been brought to bear, really, from a different country. We are talking about the supporters of Israel who really put pressure on British politicians to bring about my removal.”
Mr Ward was sacked as a candidate last month, after Mr Farron accused him of being “unfit to represent the party” because of controversial comments he had made in the past.
Prime Minister Theresa May and former Conservative cabinet member Sir Eric Pickles had put pressure on the party over their continued support for Mr Ward.
Mr Ward said while he had made “robust statements” about Israel in the past, that was “completely different” from being anti-Semitic.
He also accused the Liberal Democrats’ treatment of the constituency party, by overruling their selection of him, of being “grossly unfair”.
Mr Ward is currently sitting as an independent councillor on Bradford Council while he awaits the outcome of a disciplinary process.
Asked whether he would rejoin the party if he was offered the chance, he said: “Tim Farron’s love affair with the state of Israel […] would make it very, very difficult to be in the Liberal Democrats while he is leader.”
The Liberal Democrats have been contacted for comment. The party has yet to unveil its new candidate for Bradford East.
In 2013, while an MP, Mr Ward was reprimanded by the Liberal Democrats after he said 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”. He later apologised.
The same year, then-leader Nick Clegg suspended Mr Ward after he sent a tweet reading “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”. He was later reinstated.
In 2014, he was again forced to apologise after Tweeting: "The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes".