Tonge not at fault over ‘anti-Semitic’ Balfour apology event, Lords finds

Tonge not at fault over ‘anti-Semitic’ Balfour apology event, Lords finds

The controversial ex-Lib Dem peer was deemed to have not broken the House of Lords rules

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Baroness Tonge
Baroness Tonge

A House of Lords committee has found that Baroness Tonge was not at fault for chairing a meeting last year which called for the Government to apologise for issuing the Balfour Declaration, but which was later described as “anti-Semitic”.

Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev expressed “alarm” at the 25 October 2016 event in a letter of complaint, alleging that its content involved “disseminating anti-Semitism, promoting Holocaust revisionism and encouraging support for Hamas”.

Regev said comments at the House of Lords event included the charge that “Jews had caused the Holocaust” and that “the Zionist movement holds power over Parliament,” which he said were “clearly grounded in bigotry and hatred”.

Although organised by the Palestinian Return Centre, Tonge hosted and chaired it, and was accused of “not acting in her personal honour,” which would have been a breach of the Code of Conduct.

But she did not breach the Code, said the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Standards, because she neither hosted a knowingly anti-Semitic event, nor failed to take steps to stop the event from becoming anti-Semitic.

“The meeting was not held with the intention of promoting anti-Semitism nor was taken over by those promoting antisemitism,” read a report published this week. “Therefore the commissioner found that Baroness Tonge had not failed to act on her personal honour and so had not breached… the Code of Conduct.”

She was, however, found in breach of two other rules, including having incorrectly allowed for filming of the event, for which Tonge wrote a letter of apology.

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