Nazim Ali hearing: Day 3

Yesterday (Wednesday) was Day Three of the Nazim Ali hearing at the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The hearing tribunal must decide whether Ali’s fitness to practise is impaired by his antisemitic tirade when leading the Al Quds march on 18 June 2017.

As for Day Two, I will start simply by reporting what happened, without comment. My report is necessarily rough and incomplete because it is from my notes and because the sound quality in the room is poor. But unlike my blog of Day Two, I will not offer any comments (apart from two matters of fact). I think you will see why…………   

The day started with a question to Nazim Ali from the Chair of the GPhC Tribunal, Alastair Cannon. David Collier who took the stand on Monday had asked why it had taken over three years for Nazim Ali to offer an apology. Mr Cannon asked Nazim Ali whether he was advised to apologise by his lawyer. He said in response that when the GPhC dropped the case two years ago, his lawyer advised him NOT to apologise.

Then there was discussion of the importance of ‘Intention’ in the case. Mr Gottlieb argued that it was important that Nazim Ali had not intended to be offensive. Andrew Colman QC, acting for the GPhC, disagreed: “The objective meaning of words cannot be determined by the intention of the speaker – calling an orange ‘green’ does not make it green” and it is not in the charge against Nazim Ali that he intended to be antisemitic (four of his statements are listed and the charge is that they are (a) antisemitic and (b) offensive).  

The rest of the day was given over to a submission from Nazim Ali’s barrister, David Gottlieb. Mr Gottlieb submitted that although the hearing was still at the ‘finding of facts’ stage, it should nevertheless be terminated because Nazim Ali’s human rights would be infringed if it proceeded further.   Nazim Ali’s behaviour to his customers has been exemplary – there is no risk to members of the public. The public interest has been upheld by Nazim Ali’s behaviour since 18 June 2017 and by his apology. His personal integrity is beyond reproach. If the GPhC decided a sanction was appropriate, this would have a chilling effect on the ability of professionals to participate in public life. Mr Gottlieb agreed that Nazim Ali’s ‘European alleged Jews’ statement was antisemitic. But neither Jonathan Hoffman nor David Collier had cited this statement in their witness  statements. This shows that they are not the typical ‘bystander’ who should be judging whether Nazim Ali’s statements were antisemitic. [The implication being I guess that we are obsessed with Israel and only Israel] . Tabatha Caplan was an ‘unreliable witness’ because she wrongly stated that Nazim Ali blames Zionists and Jews for the Grenfell fire, whereas he didn’t mention Jews.(1)

During the Al Quds march Nazim Ali stood next to a man who was obviously a Rabbi (2) and he was not distressed. If Nazim Ali was an antisemite surely he would have been distressed. Nazim Ali made it clear that there were Jewish people on his side, so how could he be an antisemite? The transcript shows that Nazim Ali knew he was being filmed – would someone who knew they were being filmed make antisemitic remarks? Nazim Ali was provoked – eg the marchers were compared to ISIS. Maybe provocation caused him to make the offensive statements? The transcript and video show give-and-take on both sides (reference to the counter demonstration). David Collier said that Ali was inciting hatred – but the transcript shows him trying to calm the anti-Israel marchers down when the counter-demonstraters stopped the march.

This statement is not about Jews, it’s about Israel.

This statement is about Zionists, not Jews – he says, Zionists are not Jews.

Can the stewards please ensure that the Zionists are removed from the front. They’re not happy enough occupying Palestine, they’re trying to occupy Regent Street. It’s in their genes, it’s in their genetic code. European alleged Jews.

David Cameron spoke about the DNA of the Conservative Party. The use of the word ‘genes’ is a figure of speech, it is not to be taken literally.

The Al Quds march and the counter-demo were like two rival football teams, Bolton v Manchester United. Football supporters often abuse their rivals. If a Bolton football supporter was a pharmacist and abused a Manchester United supporter and someone complained to the GPhC, would they too be brought before a misconduct hearing? In which case the GPhC would have so many hearings, it would be impossible to cope.

Comments

(1) Mr Gottlieb’s statement that Ms Caplan was an unreliable witness appears to be based on the assumption that she was in Duchess Street. But she says she was ‘around the Grosvenor Square area’ when she saw and heard Nazim Ali speaking.  It is possible she was referring to a statement of Nazim Ali in Grosvenor Square where the march ended. The call her an ‘unreliable witness’ on this basis is completely unacceptable

(2) First the ‘Rabbi’ was Neturei Karta (see my Day 2 blog for more about this microscopic-sized Jewish sect). Of course he and Nazim Ali were all smiles – they both want the destruction of Israel. Second he was not a ‘Rabbi’ – no mainstream Jewish body would accept anyone from Neturei Karta as an authentic Rabbi.

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