Twenty three years ago a hot headed young woman, keen to cut her teeth in the world of politics, made a stupid, offensive and very grave error of judgement, stoking racial tensions and resorting to antisemitic rhetoric in order to try to retaliate to an attack. She was immediately deeply ashamed – but the damage had been done.
I am that woman and I cannot apologise enough for my behaviour, and the distress I have caused. I was responsible for upsetting many people in 1997 and as my actions from that time have resurfaced very publicly, old wounds have been reopened and I have again caused more hurt within the Jewish community and beyond. I am so sorry.
I do not intend to give context as to what was happening around me at the time because there are simply no excuses. Deservedly, it has haunted me since and this week it resulted in a very public fall from grace.
Having rightly been pilloried for the past few days, there is a natural temptation to go to ground, but I want to make amends and to try to rebuild the bridges that were so stupidly destroyed. I sincerely want to use this opportunity generously afforded to me by Jewish News to reach out to the community and to reiterate my heartfelt apology.
I have no right to ask the Jewish community for anything, but if I had the opportunity, it would be to seen as the woman I am today, and not the foolish girl I was over two decades ago.
My ridiculous tirade was a one off. Today, I am a mother of three children and a businesswoman. I have a track record of encouraging women and disadvantaged minorities to be strong, to be heard and to achieve their full potential. I have been involved with many different organisations and charities, trying to make a positive contribution to society, bringing people together.
Perhaps there is a poignancy in the timing of all of this, as the Jewish community prepares for the High Holy Days. It has certainly been a time for me to look inwards, to reflect and to repent. I hope others will find it in their hearts to accept my atonement.