A ruling that a pharmacist’s comments blaming “Zionists” for the Grenfell tower tragedy was not antisemitic has been referred to the High Court.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) ruled last month that Nazim Ali’s comments at the 2017 Al Quds Day demonstration were “offensive” but not racist.
Following complaints by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has sent the decision to the High Court for review.
Ali, who is the managing partner of Chelsea Pharmacy in London, was given a warning by the professional body in a landmark ruling last month over remarks at the rally, including blaming “Zionists” for the Grenfell tower fire and calling rabbis “imposters”.
However, the 72-page written judgement of a Fitness to Practice Committee convened by the GPhC, said his comments could not be classed as antisemitic, but they had still “brought disgrace upon the profession”, with his Grenfell comments “particularly offensive”. They amounted to “serious misconduct”.
Following the GPhC’s ruling, Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) made legal representations to the PSA asking it to use its statutory power to refer the matter to the High Court under the National Health Service Reform and Healthcare Professionals Act 2002, on the grounds that the decision was insufficient to protect the public because it was “irrational and perverse”.
CAA said it is now up to the High Court as to whether the GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee’s judgement will be quashed, leading to the matter being re-opened.
PSA said: “The Authority has referred the General Pharmaceutical Council’s decision in the Nazim Ali case to the High Court. The usual process is that we wait to hear from the Court that the case has been listed for a hearing. The Court can either refer the case back to the regulator to re-do, quash the panel’s decision and make its own, or dismiss it.”
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Since 2017, we have fought to ensure that Nazim Ali faces the consequences of his actions. As a pharmacist, he is bound by professional rules, and we are pleased that due to our complaint his regulator ruled that he brought his profession into disrepute.
“However, the ruling was deeply flawed, finding Mr Ali’s remarks not to be antisemitic, and considering Jewish bystanders not to be reasonable persons. This was irrational and perverse in the extreme, so we instructed lawyers to ensure that it cannot be allowed to stand due to the example that it sets. Not only that, but the decision to merely issue Mr Ali with a warning was insufficient to protect the public. That is why we asked the PSA to refer this matter to the High Court, and we are delighted that they have now done so.
“There was no way that we could allow this decision to stand due to the dangerous precedent that it set both for British Jews and the public which relies on healthcare professionals to be properly regulated.”
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