Readers will recall that Richard Burgon won a court case in January against The Sun. It was over a story they ran that claimed that his heavy metal band used “Nazi imagery”. The Sun argued in mitigation that there was a public interest in this issue because of the issue of Labour’s problem with anti-semitism and Burgon’s potential attitude towards Jews. Exploring the issue he was questioned in Court in reference to the same 2016 Mail article which Andrew Neil questioned him about regarding the claim he’d said “Zionism is the enemy of peace”.
The exchange went as follows:
Lawyer: “Justice spokesman Richard Burgon has urged MPs and 17 party members to quit the Labour Friends of Israel group, declaring Zionism is the enemy of peace.” That’s what the article says?
RB: That’s what the article says, yes.
Lawyer: My question to you was is that right? Did you —
RB: At the time — I believe you wrote to the Daily Mail asking when it was alleged I said this, what event in what year, and they couldn’t say. I’ve answered this question on the television as well. It’s not my view.
I think — I mean, it’s — what is important to understand is that just as all Jewish people don’t — aren’t Zionists, also there’s differences between the political strands which I define as Zionism. So, for example, when I met Israeli MPs in the Israeli Parliament, Knesset, we met Israeli MPs from different parties who would describe themselves as Zionists who had different political views. I’ve always been clear, however, that the current Prime Minister of Israel and his policies, Benjamin Netanyahu, I believe his policies are a block to a two-state outcome. But we at the time asked when I was meant to have said this, and they could provide no response to this allegation
(Legal discussion )
Lawyer: Just last time, did you say it, yes or no? Did you say what’s reported here; just yes or no, and then I will move on.
RB: I have answered the question already in detail.
Lawyer: I’m not sure you have, Mr Burgon.
Except it clearly was his view.
Burgon is a trained lawyer and a Shadow Justice minister. His clear evasiveness and failure to give a direct answer suggests in retrospect that he knew that the Mail’s story was right and realised they had no hard evidence. Meaning, he calculated, that if he avoided giving a definitive answer he would be off the hook on this crucial point. Hence his failure to give a yes or no answer. The Sun are appealing the ruling and Burgon’s failure to answer this question, together with his denial which he now admits was not true, means that his evidence was not true. For a would-be Justice Minister to be giving false sworn testimony in Court is extraordinary…
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