UK Politics

David Ward summoned by Clegg after 'Jews' comments

David Ward
Image caption The party has already censured Mr Ward

Lib Dem MP David Ward has been summoned to a meeting with Nick Clegg following a series of controversial comments he has made about Jews.

The BBC understands the Lib Dems have invoked full disciplinary proceedings against the Bradford East MP.

He has already been reprimanded over remarks he made on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day about Israel and "Jewish atrocities" against Palestinians.

The MP said there was a "difference of opinion" with his party over the issue.

Mr Ward was forced to apologise two weeks ago after sparking a storm of protest when he said on his website 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...and continue to do so".

'Form of words'

Mr Ward initially defended his comments and said his party's response had been "regrettable" but later apologised for the "unintended offence" which his words had caused.

He has insisted that neither he nor his comments were anti-semitic.

But there was subsequent controversy when a Jewish newspaper reported Mr Ward had asked if it would satisfy his critics if he changed the wording to read "the Jewish community" instead of "the Jews."

The party has confirmed that its chief whip, Alistair Carmichael, met Mr Ward on Monday and intended to have further meetings "as part of a disciplinary process".

The BBC's political correspondent Tim Reid said one of the sanctions available to the leadership if their differences are not resolved would be to remove the party whip from Mr Ward, temporarily or permanently.

But Mr Ward, who was elected to Parliament in 2010, said it was "completely fair" that he was being called to a meeting with his leader and acknowledged there was a "difference of opinion" over whether he had infringed the party's standing orders.

'Asking questions'

But he told the BBC that in his view he was "not being allowed to apologise" by his critics.

"I have already apologised," he said. "It's a question about finding a form of words that makes it possible for me to continue to ask questions about these things that are allowed to happen year after year."

On his Twitter page, the MP has argued that it is not "a state that demolishes a house but a person - this is about how (not all!) persecuted become persecutors".

Mr Ward also claims that he has had 5,000 emails recently supporting his comments about the plight of the Palestinians.

The disciplinary hearing with the deputy prime minister and the party's deputy leader Simon Hughes is expected to take place next week, once Mr Clegg returns from his current trip to Africa.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Clegg said he was "unambiguous in my condemnation of anyone, from whatever party including my own, who uses insensitive, intemperate, provocative and offensive language".

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