Nazim Ali hearing: Day 6

Yesterday was Day Six of the Nazim Ali hearing  at the Fitness to Practise Committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) The Committee must decide whether Ali’s fitness to practise is impaired by his antisemitic tirade when leading the pro-Hizbolla Iran-sponsored Al Quds march on 18 June 2017.

(My tribunal reports are necessarily rough and incomplete because they from notes and the sound quality in the room is poor).

The charge against Ali specifies four of his utterances on the march:

It’s in their genes. The Zionists are here to occupy Regent Street. It’s in their genes, it’s in their genetic code.

European alleged Jews. Remember brothers and sisters, Zionists are not Jews.

Any Zionist, any Jew coming into your centre supporting Israel, any Jew coming into your centre who is a member of the Board of Deputies, is not a Rabbi, he’s an imposter.

They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.

The charge is that these are (a) abusive and (b) antisemitic.

The day began with the Committee’s response to the submission by David Gottlieb, Ali’s barrister, to halt the proceedings by a  ‘Stay for Abuse of Process‘, on the grounds that his client’s human rights would be violated. The Committee rejected the submission, determining that the proceedings were lawful and necessary. The precedent of Kahn v Bar Standards Board was cited. It was determined that the case was sufficiently important for the Council to consider; that the measure was reasonable in view of the objective; and that no less intrusive measure was available. The fact that there was no universally agree definition of antisemitism did not make the case exceptional; juries regularly make decisions in similar circumstances. Neither did the fact that it was an ethical issue make it ‘exceptional’ ; regulators often consider ethical issues.

Gottlieb’s next ruse was to try to change the charge, from ‘are antisemitic’ to ‘could be antisemitic’. The rationale was that Ali had admitted that his utterances could be viewed as antisemitic, though he did not consider them so. If Gottlieb could get the charge changed he could argue that (a) it was one with which his client agreed and (b) there was doubt as to whether they are antisemitic. The GPhC barrister Andrew Colman opposed the proposal. The GPhC needs a clear charge, he argued. And it was up to the Committee how it tested the antisemitism charge. To introduce ‘could’ would lower the bar and introduce uncertainty. The GPhC needs a Standard. The Committee might want to ask this question: Would most reasonable people conclude that the words were on balance antisemitic?

Gottlieb’s submission to change the charge was rejected.

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