UK Politics

Disciplinary action over David Ward's 'Jews' comments adjourned

David Ward
Image caption Mr Ward has has removed the original article from his website

Disciplinary procedures against Lib Dem MP David Ward, who made controversial comments about "the Jews", have been adjourned by the party.

This follows a meeting with Nick Clegg and Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael.

In the meeting, Mr Ward agreed to work with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel to identify "proportionate language" he could use in the future to express his views.

The disciplinary process will be reviewed at a future date.

Mr Ward was forced to apologise last month after saying 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 in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza".

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

'Better understanding'

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 began full disciplinary proceedings against the Bradford East MP following the comments.

In a letter to Mr Ward written after the meeting, Alistair Carmichael wrote: "At the meeting you undertook to work along with Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel and Simon Hughes MP to identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise in your future interventions in this debate.

"We would also hope that this would allow you to achieve a better understanding of the legitimate concern that your comments has caused within the wider Jewish community.

"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."

The letter says Nick Clegg wishes it to be "clearly understood that the party recognises your right to express your legitimately and sincerely held views on the conditions in which Palestinians live, especially on the West Bank and in Gaza.

"He was equally clear, however, that the language in which these views are articulated must not be generalised and indiscriminate in its nature."

Mr Ward has been asked not to repeat his use of "the Jews" or "the Jewish community" and he has removed the original article from his website.

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