Islington Council has said it is “considering its options” in the wake of an appearance by antisemite Gilad Atzmon at council-owned premises last Friday, despite being refused permission.
The council first received a complaint on December 3, from a member of the Jewish community about jazz saxophonist Atzmon’s proposed appearance with the band, the Blockheads. The band was due to play at Islington Assembly Hall on 21 December.
The council decided not to allow Atzmon to play, but after the threat of legal proceedings from his solicitors, re-considered the issue. On December 13 the council decided for a second time that it would not allow him to perform. He appealed, but his appeal was turned down and the council said that the performance would proceed “without Mr Atzmon”.
However, from a variety of social media postings from Atzmon, members of the Blockheads and members of the concert’s audience, it is clear that, dressed as Santa Claus, he did go on stage and joined the band during the evening.
A spokesman for the council says it is “disappointed” that the Blockheads brought Atzmon on stage “despite their prior agreement to adhere to the council’s decision. The council is considering its options”.
Islington said that detailed reasons for its decisions had been provided to Mr Atzmon and his solicitors.
“In summary, under the Equality Act 2010, the council must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to foster good relations between different races and religions within the borough. The council took account of the fact that Mr Atzmon’s presence at the Hall, and knowledge of his presence among residents of the borough, might harm such relationships, as well as the council’s duty to tackle prejudice and promote understanding within the borough”.
The row sparked a new furore when the Labour MP Chris Williamson signed a petition called “Hands Off Gilad Atzmon”, protesting at the ban on the Israeli-born activist. Williamson claimed he had not known about Atzmon’s antisemitic opinions and apologised for having signed the petition, but many people refused to believe he could not have been aware of Atzmon’s history and behaviour.
In July, Atzmon lost a court action after libelling the founder of the Campaign Against Antisemitsim, Gideon Falter, and was forced to make a humiliating apology.