The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has decided that the General Pharmaceutical Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee erred in its approach to a charge that comments made by Mr Nazim Ali were antisemitic and has referred the decision to the High Court.
Nazim Ali is the pharmacist who told the baying crowd at the Al Quds Day March in June 2017 in London: “They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party” amongst other remarks defaming “Zionists”. Nazim Ali admitted that his comments were offensive but was acquitted of accusations that they were antisemitic and merely given a warning in the decision of his professional body, made on 5 November 2020
The decision of the PSA follows a letter to them from UKLFI Charitable Trust on 16 November 2020 showing that the General Pharmaceutical Council had applied an incorrect test to determine whether Nazim Ali’s remarks were antisemitic. UKLFI Charitable Trust argued that a referral to the Court was required to maintain public confidence in the pharmacy profession and proper professional standards and conduct.
In a letter to UKLFI Charitable Trust, the PSA, which oversees the Fitness to Practice Committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council, has confirmed that it has referred the decision to the High Court “because it may be insufficient to protect the public“.
The letter from the PSA stated that “the Authority was concerned that the Committee had erred in its approach to a charge that the comments made by Mr Ali were anti-Semitic. Those errors mean that it is not possible to know whether a different outcome would have been reached in the case had the correct approach been taken, and that therefore decision taken by the Committee was not sufficient to protect the public.
For that reason the Authority, by its appeal, is asking the Court to quash findings made by the Committee and remit the case back to the Committee for reconsideration, applying the correct approach to the charge of anti-Semitism. The appeal has now been lodged with the court.”
Jonathan Turner, Executive Director of UKLFI Charitable Trust commented: “We are pleased that the Professional Standards Authority has accepted the force of our argument that the Committee’s test of antisemitism was incorrect. We hope that the High Court will clarify this important issue.”
1. The impact of Nazim Ali’s rhetoric was wrongly assessed from the standpoint of an ordinary person. This approach gives a free pass to rhetoric that incites hate in one section of society and strikes fear into another, even if its import is not understood by the majority of society.
2. The Committee failed to appreciate the true nature of the Al Quds Day event, which they described as “an annual march in Central London in support of Palestinian rights”. It was in reality a hate fest against Israel in which numerous flags supporting the antisemitic terrorist organisation, Hizbollah, were carried by the participants.
3. The Committee dismissed the evidence of the only witnesses called by the Council, both of whom were Jewish, as of little assistance, on the ground that these witnesses were not the “reasonable person” who ought to assess whether the registrants comments were antisemitic. Furthermore, the Committee insultingly described them as lacking impartiality.
4. The Committee failed to appreciate that in some sections of society the word “Zionist” is regularly used to mean a Jew.
5. “Antisemitic” seems to have been understood by the Committee as hostile to or prejudiced against Jewish people as a religious group. The Committee failed to understand the relationship between Jews as a people and Zionism as their national movement, and failed to assess as “antisemitic” Nazim Ali’s racist hostility to Zionists.
6. The Committee also seems to have disregarded the IHRA definition of antisemitism (which has been adopted by the British government and many other countries around the world, as well as many institutions within the UK) on the rather odd ground that it defines “antisemitism” rather than “antisemitic”.