One of the tribunal judges who fined media lawyer Mark Lewis for defending himself against antisemites has a history of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments, Jewish News can reveal.
An investigation by this website into Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) judge Millius Palayiwa has uncovered a litany of concerning remarks stretching back almost 10 years.
In a speech in March 2009 to The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Palayiwa declared: “Will all the waters of the oceans wash off the blood from the hands of the USA, the UK and Israel? Here I am thinking of Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza.”
Speaking at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in May 2015, he asked: “How can Jews, who themselves were victims of racial hatred, treat Palestinians in the way they do?”
And appearing to call for the end of Israel as a Jewish state, he added: “For me, the future lies in peace and reconciliation. This would be achievable through the establishment of a secular, pluralistic democracy that includes all of Palestine/Israel based on justice, fairness and equality of all its citizens.”
The last two statements appear to contravene the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has adopted.
According to the SDT 2017 Annual Report, Palayiwa has been a member of the tribunal since 2009. He studied law at Oxford University and now specialises in international conflict resolution, peace-making and resolution.
Mark Lewis, who represented phone-hacking victims against the News of the World, was found by the SDT to have acted with a lack of integrity, failing uphold confidence in the profession after he ‘wished death’ to his anti-Jewish Twitter abusers.
On top of a £2,500 fine, he was ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.
Lewis’ counsel said tweets directed at the lawyer included deaths threats and images of his face superimposed on the Auschwitz crematorium.
Paul Charney, chair of the Zionist Federation of the UK and Ireland said: “The existence of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is an important part of what keeps the industry just and fair. But for a member of that tribunal, that passed judgment over a well-known advocate for Israel, to have such rabidly anti-Israel views – calling for the end of a Jewish state, comparing Israel to the Nazis and promoting views that encourage the hatred of Israel – is outrageous and should be fully condemned. This certainly does not lead to justice.
He added: “We call on the Tribunal to reconsider its appointments and to ensure that this case is re-tested against a backdrop of fairness, rather than merits tested on political bias.”
Asked about Palayiwa’s previous statements on Jews and Israel, Mark Lewis said: “It would not be appropriate for me to comment.”
Palayiwa has been approached for comment.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal declined to speak to Jewish News other than to state it “does not comment on individual cases”.