Conservative Central Office is to investigate the actions of its Hertsmere councillors after alleged anti-Semitic comments were made against a Jewish Labour Party candidate in a Borehamwood by election last February.
In the letter to Dr Dan Ozarow, Amanda Milling, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, said she had passed the matter onto their Code of Conduct Team who would investigate the matter fully.
In the apparently orchestrated campaign by the Conservatives and their supporters led to calls by members of the public for Dr Ozarow to ‘go to the gas chambers,’ to him being labelled a ‘Jew-hating Jew c**t,’ a ‘Nazi,’ and that he ‘lacked a Jewish soul’ amongst a swathe of other abuse across Facebook.
The Conservatives also delivered a letter under the Party logo from their candidate to residents’ homes implying that Dr Ozarow supported terrorist organisations, whilst as The Independent reported, one of their most senior councillors, Paul Morris, placed the Labour candidate’s face on an electronic billboard outside Elstree & Borehamwood station implying the same.
As part of the alleged harassment campaign, Dr Ozarow also received abusive emails at his work account and a threatening message purportedly from a local Conservative councillor that ominously mentioned his unborn baby.
In response to the attacks, The Labour Party’s then General Secretary, Jennie Formby, wrote to the national Conservative Party Chief Executive over the ‘utterly disgraceful behaviour over alleged anti-Semitic abuse.’ In the letter, she demanded that action be taken against any councillors who are found to have contributed to the abuse.
Subsequently, the Conservative Deputy Leader of Elstree and Borehamwood Town Council, Cllr Sandra Parnell, was forced to apologise after she wrote on her Facebook page that Dr Ozarow was ‘the worst anti-Semite’.
The apology followed a letter from leading libel lawyers, Carter Ruck, in which Cllr Parnell was warned that the post was untrue and highly defamatory. As part of the settlement agreement, Parnell agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the Holocaust Education Trust.
Carter Ruck also issued a letter to the Conservative candidate and eventual by-election winner, Cllr Brett Rosehill, warning him about extremely serious allegations in a leaflet which were presented in a highly misleading way and were untrue and unjustified. They also demanded that the Conservatives abstained from publishing or repeating false allegations and from behaving in a way that constituted harassment of Dr Ozarow or of other local Jewish Labour members or councillors, given that it was the third election running that Hertsmere Conservatives had smeared Labour’s Jewish candidates. Following the threat of action against the Conservative Party candidate’s wife, a further defamatory post was removed.
Another Conservative Councillor, Glenn Briski used an apparently anti-Semitic stereotype on Facebook to describe the Labour candidate and left-leaning Labour members as being “self-hating, privileged middle-class people who can’t help but apologise for all their privilege.” He suggested that Dr Ozarow belonged to several groups he had never joined and apparently agreed with a post demanding that the Labour candidate be “sent to Tehran”.
Said Dr Ozarow, “I am pleased that the Conservative Party has agreed to formally investigate Hertsmere Conservatives and several of their councillors over allegations that they made anti-Semitic remarks and threats against me and my family. The abuse directed at me, simply because I stood as a candidate against them was deeply upsetting and hurtful.”
“No one should be subjected to that, simply for wanting to make their community a better place for residents to live in, whatever their background is. The Conservatives have held Labour to account over anti-Semitism in recent years. This will be a litmus test for whether they are prepared to deal with the problem when it occurs in their own ranks.”
Meanwhile Dr Ozarow received messages of support from Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner and several other MPs, The Board of Deputies of British Jews, several rabbis, numerous anti-racism organisations, Compassion in Politics, Hertsmere Lib Dems, Greens and Labour, and hundreds of people around the country.