MP faces questions over ties to councillor suspended for antisemitism
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

MP faces questions over ties to councillor suspended for antisemitism

EXCLUSIVE: Conservative Paul Bristow pictured with Ishfaq Hussain one month AFTER party took action against him for social media posts about Jews and Zionism.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Paul Bristow with Ishfaq Hussain
Paul Bristow with Ishfaq Hussain

A Conservative MP is facing further questions about his association with a local councillor suspended by the party over claims of “abhorrent” antisemitism.

Paul Bristow, the MP for Peterborough, attended an event in Leeds at which Ishfaq Hussain was also present one month after he was suspended by the Conservatives pending an investigation into his social media posts.

The MP and Hussain were also amongst a group who dined at a restaurant in Leeds – before the pair then travelled back to their home city in the same car.

Hussain was suspended by the Tories in April after a succession of social media posts he made attacking “Zionists” and questioning whether citizens of Israel were “true Jews” were revealed in newspaper reports.

Last week Jewish News told how Bristow – who issued a statement calling for the stain of antisemitism to be erased from Peterborough – had joined Hussain on a “site visit” in the city on 17 June.

But this was not the only time the pair had been at an engagement together since Hussain was suspended, alongside other Tory and Labour activists over antisemitism claims ahead of the May local election.

Bristow (right) Hussain (centre) in Leeds

Photographs show that the MP and councillor, who was elected to represent the Dogsthorpe ward despite his suspension from the local Tory Group, were also at the British Muslim Heritage event in Leeds on May 29.

While Bristow said he did not travel to the event with Hussain, he confirmed he been with him at the Muslim Heritage dialogue session.

The MP then said he was present at a meal the Mumtaz restaurant in Leeds at which Hussain was also present.

Bristow said he was there in his capacity as the co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.”

Hussain, Bristow, and others, then travelled back to Peterborough in the same vehicle.

Peterborough Conservatives suspended Hussain in April after it was revealed he had posted on Facebook claims including Jewish people living in Israel are not “true Jews”.

Bristow in Leeds on Hussain’s social media

He also said that Israel is part of a “Zionist trilogy” alongside America and Saudi Arabia which “breed terrorists.”

Hussain had also previously turned his profile picture into an image with the caption: “This person does not recognise the State of Israel,” while also claiming that “Zionism is one of the worst afflictions on the world.”

After viewing Hussain’s posts the Jewish Leadership Council issued a statement branding them “abhorrent and antisemitic.”

After Hussein, and several other local councillors were suspended ahead of the local election’s in May, the MP issued a statement saying: “As Peterborough’s MP, I take the suspensions of councillors and candidates very seriously.

“The Jewish Leadership Council is right to say that ‘there is a specific and identifiable problem’ of antisemitism in our city’s politics.

“I have invited JLC representatives to come to Peterborough to meet me and address this problem directly.

“We must lift this shadow over politics in our city.”

But Jewish News understands the meeting the JLC has yet to take place and no date has been put in the diary for it to happen yet.

Facebook posts made by the MP show he has been a long-time supporter of Hussain, declaring himself “proud” that he had been selected as a city council candidate for Dogsthorpe in February 2020.

Subsequent posts show Bristow heaping further praise on his “friend” Hussain who he said was a a great Peterborian” particularly over the work he had done in the local community during the pandemic.

Bristow told Jewish News he was “heartbroken” when he learned about Hussain’s social media posts about Zionists and Jews.

He said he was aware of Hussain’s on-going suspension pending an investigation into his conduct, which has been confirmed to Jewish News by the Tory Party press office.

On 17 June in a social media post Hussain thanked his local MP for joining him on a “site visit” in the local Dogsthorpe ward.

Above a photograph of himself, the MP, and another official, Hussain said that on the “site visit” he had pledged to local residents he would resolve an issue involving a dangerous road crossing.

Hussain wrote: “I would like to thank our MP Paul Bristow… for joining for on the site visit and supporting residents.”

The city of Peterborough has been rocked by antisemitic incidents in both Labour and Tory Groups.

Labour took the drastic step of suspending 14 local members, including seven councillors, just weeks before the local elections in May.

When approached by his local newspaper about his Facebook posts Hussain said in April:”I deeply regret that my frustration at events in Israel and Palestine led me to suggest otherwise.

“At times in the past I reacted irresponsibly on social media. My comments at those moments do not reflect my settled view.”

In a statement to Jewish News, Bristow confirmed that on 29 May he had been invited to attend “the British Muslim Heritage Centre’s dialogue session, and then a meal subsequently in my capacity as the co-chair of the APPG on British Muslims.”

He said MPs were present from both main parties, and councillors including Hussain.

The MP said the “site visit” on 17 June at which he joined Hussain had been organised by Peterborough City Council.

Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge has said Bristow’s continued association with Hussain after his suspension highlights “sickening hypocrisy” with the Tory Party over its handling of antisemitism claims.

Bristow became MP for Peterborough at the 2019 general election, where he defeated Labour’s Lisa Forbes, who had herself been at the centre of controversy around antisemitism.

The Conservative Party have been approached for comment.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments