Labour MP Richard Burgon insists he “certainly did not lie” when he wrongly claimed he had not described Zionism as “the enemy of the peace.”
Appearing on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Burgon was challenged on why he denied making the comments which emerged in a video last month.
He said: “I was first asked by a newspaper in 2016 whether I had made such a declaration. I asked them when I was meant to have said it and where, they couldn’t tell me.
“Fast forward two years later to 2018 and your colleague, Andrew Neil, asked me if I’d made that comment in a meeting in 2016.
“And then a year after that, a video came to light – not of 2016 but actually from 2014, five years ago before I was even a Member of Parliament.”
“Those are not my views… I didn’t lie” – Richard Burgon, shadow justice secretary, when asked about his previous remarks on Zionism being the "enemy of the peace"@RichardBurgon | #newsnight pic.twitter.com/ccVYDTu24k
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) May 9, 2019
Mike Katz, national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, tweeted in response to the interview: “More than three weeks ago I wrote on behalf of @JewishLabour to Richard Burgon & Lab Chief Whip Nick Brown.
“No reply, let alone an apology and resignation. Guess the Party leadership really wants to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.”
Footage emerged of the frontbencher in April saying: “The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists, and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.”
This came after he categorically denied making the comments during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil last year.
The clip drew wide criticism from Jewish leaders, with Amanda Bowman, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, calling the remarks “shameful.”
Other Jewish organisations also condemned the remarks and demanded an apology and clarification from Burgon.
The Labour MP later said in a statement he regretted the comments. “I recognise that such a phrase fails to distinguish between those seeking a peaceful solution in line with international law,” he said.