Pak-born UK lawmaker suspended over Jewish remarks



London: Pakistan-born Lord Nazir Ahmed, one of Labour's most prominent Muslim peers in the UK, was suspended by the party on Thursday for allegedly making anti-Jewish remarks.

The peer had been jailed for dangerous driving back in 2009 and he is believed to have blamed his imprisonment on a "Jewish conspiracy".

"The Labour Party deplores and does not tolerate any sort of racism or anti-Semitism. Following reports in The Times today we are suspending Lord Ahmed pending an investigation," a Labour Party spokesperson told a news agency.

Lord Ahmed, 55, who became Britain's first Muslim life peer in 1998, is said to have made the comments in a TV interview during a visit to Pakistan in April last year.

He allegedly told an Urdu-language broadcast that the judge who jailed him for 12 weeks was appointed to the High Court after helping a "Jewish colleague" of former British prime minister Tony Blair during an important case and was hand-picked to hear his case.

"My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this," he reportedly said as part of the interview.

The peer had been jailed for dangerous driving after sending and receiving text messages minutes before being involved in a fatal motorway crash in December 2007.

The Court of Appeal later suspended his 12-week jail sentence due to "exceptional" circumstances and he was released after serving 16 days in jail.

In the interview with Pakistani media, he alleged that Jewish-owned media organisations pressured the courts to charge him with a more serious offence.

Legal experts here believe if he had made similar claims in the UK, he could have faced prosecution for hate crime.

Lord Ahmed, however, claims he does not recall making the comments.

"I've done a lot of interviews. If you're saying that you have seen this footage then it may be so but I need to see the footage and I need to consult with my solicitors before I make any comments in relation to this," he told The Times, which reported the original allegations here yesterday.

The politician, whose origins lie in PoK, has a history of courting controversy with his remarks.

Last year, he was suspended from the Labour party amid reports that he offered a GBP 10 million bounty for the capture of US President Barack Obama and his predecessor, president George W Bush.

These proved "erroneously reported" and his suspension was later revoked.

PTI