After this two-year investigation, I am delighted that the terror that my family and I went through is finally over and that the Conservative Party has reached this verdict.’ Dan Ozarow, 2020 Kenilworth Labour candidate
An investigation led by an independent QC into Tories in Chairman Oliver Dowden’s own constituency has led to reprimands against a number of councillors for their part in an election smear campaign.
A Jewish Labour Party candidate who felt ‘terrorised’ by a stream of Antisemitic abuse and death threats against him and his family has expressed relief that Conservative Party Central Office has found five of its councillors guilty of negative campaigning, inciting Antisemitism and multiple breaches of the party code of conduct and Nolan principals of standards in public life.
Dr Dan Ozarow who stood as a candidate in the Borehamwood Kenilworth ward by-election in Hertsmere, Hertfordshire in 2020 was told to ‘go to the gas chambers,’ labelled a ‘Jew c**t,’ and a ‘Nazi,’ and told that he ‘lacked a Jewish soul’ amongst dozens of examples of abuse and defamation targeted at him across social media.
Among the 104-page submission considered by Conservative head office were also threatening messages sent to his work email and a chilling anonymous message purportedly from a Conservative Party councillor warning that he ‘had to live with his past’ and mentioning his and his wife’s unborn baby. Hertfordshire Police recorded several of these posts as ‘hate incidents’.
In the final stage of the Conservative Party complaints process, Co-Chairman, Ben Elliot, accepted the recommendations of a panel of Party members, led by independent QC Richard Price OBE which found that Councillors Brett Rosehill – who won the by-election – Glenn Briski and Paul Morris were ‘party to a personal campaign against the claimant in relation to the 2020 by-election, and which continued for many months’. It also concluded that ‘this negative campaigning may well have encouraged others to send Antisemitic posts or messages to the complainant.’
In delivering its verdict, the panel was also scathing about Cllr Morris Bright who, it concluded in his position as Hertsmere Borough Council Leader and Leader of the Conservative Group, should have ‘taken steps to rein in the activities of these councillors at an early stage’, given that he must ‘have been aware of the negative campaign activities.’ The same judgment was also reached about former councillor and Hertsmere election agent, Jane West.
All five have received formal reprimands from Ben Elliot and ordered to attend training seminars organised by the Party.
On hearing the final conclusions, Dr Ozarow said: ‘After this two-year investigation, I am delighted that the terror that my family and I went through is finally over and that the Conservative Party has reached this verdict.’
Standing and winning in a 2021 by-election in the same ward, he continued: ‘I wanted to show people that I wasn’t going to be bullied away just for wanting to make my community a better place.’
‘I also wanted to prevent Hertsmere Conservatives from ever inciting such hate against anyone again. No one should have to suffer like my family and I did and it really saddened me to hear Jewish people from other parties telling me that they were too frightened to stand for election because of what happened.’
‘I would also like to thank my wife for her support. She was eight months pregnant at the time and was put under immense stress and also to my two children with whom I had to sacrifice so much time whilst going through this process.’
‘Most of all I would like to thank all those who have showed me solidarity, including the Borehamwood community who overwhelmingly rejected the politics of hate and division at the ballot box last year when they elected me to serve them in a landslide vote.’
‘Many local people in Hertsmere within and outside the Jewish community, including Tory voters, have told me how disgusted they are at what Hertsmere Conservatives did to me and expressed that they would never vote for them locally again.’
On hearing the conclusions of the panel, Hertsmere Labour & Cooperative Group Leader, Cllr Jeremy Newmark. said: ‘I commend the Conservative Party for this full and robust investigatory process. What matters now is what will actually be done about the findings? Will there be sanctions, training and disciplinary measures? Or will this now be left to gather dust. I am pleased that Cllr Ozarow has achieved a degree of justice and vindication. I won’t be playing politics with the serious issue of Antisemitism, but I do however expect actions and consequences as a result of this report.’