JLC/Jeremy Newmark: Tory Dirty Tricks On Back of Jewish Chronicle Hysteria

In an Open Letter a year ago I asked the Jewish Leadership Council and the Jewish Chronicle a number of questions about the Jeremy Newmark case. Needless to say neither body responded. Two weeks ago the JLC published the report they commissioned into the whistleblower’s allegations. The JLC website tells you it is the ‘full’ report. But it isn’t. It excludes section 8 and – importantly – the appendices, which include the report of accountants Crowe UK LLP.

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The JLC said it has ‘referred the matters raised in the Crowe Report relating to potentially questionable expenditure, to the police’.

The JC went into overdrive……….

Having devoted seven pages to the story a year ago it was hardly going to call the report a storm in a teacup. Its comments on the JLC report included ‘alleged fraud’; it quoted the report as suggesting ‘that £111,734 cannot be accounted for and that an additional £266,189 merits further investigation’ – only mentioning in a separate paragraph the panel’s comment that the lack of proper accounting records meant that they were unable to provide an accurate figure as to the full amount – and mentioned ‘allegations that Jeremy Newmark deceived the organisation out of tens of thousands of pounds’. Its editorial – headed ‘A Tale of Venality’ – was savage: it referred to Jeremy Newmark as a ‘villain’; rubbished his claim that he did nothing wrong beyond ‘some administrative processes and procedures’; called for his resignation as a Councillor; and said ‘he must never again have any role in public life’.

Contrast the JC’s coverage with that of the Jewish News, which simply said ‘the report failed to reach conclusions on several key allegations against him.’

The JC’s hysteria prompted Hertsmere Conservatives into the crudest of dirty political tricks. Here is the letter sent by the Leader, Cllr Morris Bright, to known Jewish voters in the Borough (from a list ‘compiled informally by activists who had noted which houses had mezuzot’ !!!).

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This is what it says:

I write this letter on behalf of 35 out of 39 Hertsmere Borough Councillors, all seven local Hertfordshire county councillors, and Hertsmere MP, Oliver Dowden CBE.

You may have heard that the police are investigating fraud allegations against former CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, who is accused of deceiving the JLC out of tens of thousands of pounds. On his watch it is claimed the charity incurred £111,734 of potentially questionable expenditure with £266,189 possibly meriting enquiry and he was able to pay money into his personal bank account.

Jeremy Newmark is also a Councillor in Borehamwood and Leader of the Labour Group at Hertsmere Borough Council.

In its leader column the Jewish Chronicle says ‘it is clear from this report that he must never again have any role in public life. He cannot remain as a councillor, let alone as leader of the Labour group at Hertsmere Borough Council.’

I agree and I have written to Councillor Newmark asking him to consider his position. I hope he will give serious thought to the effect this story will have on his constituents in general, and the Jewish Community in Elstree & Borehamwood in particular, who remain rocked and worried by ongoing pernicious displays of anti-semitism in the Labour party. The allegations against Cllr Newmark will add to fears about how he and the Jewish community are being perceived within and outside the community.

This is NOT about politics. My late grandfather was the first Jewish Mayor of Hackney in 1959. He would be sickened seeing what has happened to the party.

I hope Jeremy Newmark will do the right thing asap. If not, then at the local elections on May 2nd there will be an opportunity for him to be removed by the people.

Best
Cllr Morris Bright MBE
Leader, Hertsmere Borough Council
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You see what Cllr Bright (Jewish himself, ex-Carmel College) is doing?

1. Why has the letter been sent only to Jews? If a Councillor is suspected of fraud is that not an issue for voters of other religious denominations? What about atheists and agnostics? This is the politics of division.
2. He’s telling Jews in Hertsmere not to vote for Cllr Newmark on the basis that questionable and unproven (see below) allegations about him fuel antisemitism!
3. He’s fraudulently harnessing Labour’s antisemitism travails for political ends.
4. On the basis of an unproven and grossly exaggerated news report (see below), he’s adding to concerns of Jewish voters about antisemitism.
5. There is no sign whatever that he has checked the accuracy of the JC’s reporting.
6. The fact that Cllr Bright feels it necessary to defend this most repulsive of repulsive political smears by reference to his late grandfather simply PROVES that he knows how underhand it is.
7. ‘This is not about politics’…..See those flying pigs Cllr Bright?

To suggest that Cllr Newmark’s conduct has fuelled antisemitism is particularly obnoxious in view of his record of fighting antisemitism for many years, at the JLC and as leader of the Jewish Labour Movement. It’s astonishing that Oliver Dowden MP endorsed this vicious letter. Did he even see it before it went out?

And while we’re at it – Cllr Bright’s grandfather Morris Blitz was NOT the first Jewish Mayor of Hackney. Solomon Lever was Mayor in 1951.

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So what was Jeremy Newmark’s response to the JLC report?

We are not allowed to know – because he has been gagged, see his published statement. The JLC refused to publish his 46 section response – even redacted – because of concerns about defamation and information which might identify the whistleblower.  Moreover he was not allowed to respond to the bulk of the report before it was published, other than in relation to extracts from the Crowe appendix. And the reference to the Police was given to him too late for him to be able to comment.

But the law does not compel an organisation to protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers (who rarely act from the motive of pure altruism …….).  The threat of injunction is having the consequence that Jeremy Newmark is being subjected to the most vicious vilification and demonisation on – see below – unproven grounds.  The JLC must now go back to the panel which wrote the report and ask them to redact the Newmark response as they feel appropriate – and it must then be published. It is completely unfair that he has not been allowed to publish his response. It was surely never Parliament’s intention that protection of whistleblowers or concern about defamation should be used to deny natural justice.

So what does the report really say?

Comparing it to the JC report is rather revealing.

Does it speak of ‘Fraud’? No. And as for the referral to the Police, anyone can ‘refer’ anything to the Police. There is no indication that the Police have taken the matter any further. If it was as slam-dunk as the JC suggests then surely the Police would have acted by now.

Does it say that £111,734 ‘cannot be accounted for’? And that an additional £266,189 ‘merits further investigation’?

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No. It merely says that £111,734 was ‘potentially questionable’. As for the £266,189, it says it was ‘eligible expenditure’ according to the trustees at the time. It also notes in several places the lack of documentation but the JC only mentioned this en passant.

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How aboutallegations that Jeremy Newmark deceived the organisation out of tens of thousands of pounds’? Is that in the report? No.

If Councillor Newmark decides not to stand for re-election on the basis of the largely unsubstantiated lynching in the JC and his enforced gagging – of if he does stand, but is unsuccessful –  it will be the most appalling travesty.

As for the Tory dirty trick: Jewish voters in Herstmere – indeed ALL voters in Hertsmere, whether or not they received the poison pen letter – may well wish to vote Labour, to show their disgust.