Lord Nazir Ahmed was always a classic case of "positive discrimination" gone horribly wrong. The erstwhile Labour peer – elevated to the House of Lords in 1998 – is now in trouble yet again. This time it is for claiming that the Jews were behind his imprisonment for dangerous driving. That was the occasion a few years back when Lord Ahmed, on a motorway, while texting, ran over and killed a man. In the wake of his comments, Lord Ahmed has been suspended from the Labour party. He has, however, been suspended – but reinstated – before. When it comes to terrible things said by Lord Ahmed we have also been here many times before. For years, he has said disgraceful things; for years, he has then lied about them.
It is certain that nobody who has followed the sordid, untruthful career of Ahmed could be remotely surprised by the latest event. To recap – in 2009, Lord Ahmed was sent to jail for 12 weeks for dangerous driving. He was, surprisingly, freed by the court of appeal after only 16 days.
In what now looks like an even more dumbfounding statement than it did at the time, the court's reasons for releasing Ahmed so soon included the fact that he should be given the opportunity to "continue his work building bridges between Muslims and other faiths." In an interview on Pakistani television which has just been brought to light by the Times newspaper, Ahmed lived up to the court's wishes to "build bridges" by saying on video that it was the Jews "who own newspapers and television channels" who were behind his imprisonment.
In his Pakistan interview Lord Ahmed also claims that the judge in the case was appointed to his position because he helped a "Jewish colleague" of Briain's Prime Minister Tony Blair's during a case. In the Ahmed account, Justice Wilkie was specifically picked to sentence Lord Ahmed because no other judge would deal with the case. And why was it that "the Jews" would work so hard to appoint judges and buy newspapers and television stations in order to ensure the noble Lord was locked away? You must have guessed it: why, Israel of course!
"My case became more critical," Lord Ahmed explains to his interviewer, "because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this," he says.
In a textbook case of Lord Ahmed's misbehavior, he has already denied to the Times that he ever gave the interview in which he said these words. Fortunately the Times not only has the tape but the also the transcript and a number of translators who have all come to the conclusion that the words Lord Ahmed said were the words Lord Ahmed said.
This is a characteristic tactic of denial by Ahmed: we have been here many times before. Lord Ahmed has threatened legal action against many people in the past, including this author. Specifically, he has tried to sue me for reporting the words that came out of his own mouth. He has fired off lawyers' letters from well-remunerated London firms to attempt -- at some expense and inconvenience the "the accused" -- to coerce me into silence. He has done the same to others for the same crime: recounting the words that have come out of his mouth.
All the time the lies have continued. Just last year Lord Ahmed was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour party for calling for a bounty to be put on the head of President Barack Obama. This reportedly happened at a public meeting in Pakistan. The "amusing" offer was made in response to the US offer of a reward for the capture of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, founder of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
According to the Express Tribune, at a meeting in Pakistan Lord Ahmed said: "If the US can announce a reward of $10m for the capture of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10m on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush." He went on to say that he would sell his house to provide the bounty. Of course, no sooner had the words made public than they were publicly denied.
"'I never said those words," he said. "I did not offer a bounty. I said that there have been war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and those people who have got strong allegations against them – George W Bush and Tony Blair – have been involved in illegal wars and should be brought to justice."
He also claimed that the Labour party had not asked to see evidence before suspending him, and demanded that they provide evidence.
It should be clear by now that this is a man who will literally say anything in order to deny that he has said something. Unbelievably, the Labour party reinstated him that time. We shall see if they do after this latest suspension.
It would be easy for them not to do so. Apart from his endless lies and extreme statements, Lord Ahmed has regularly hosted extremists, including people associated with terrorist groups, at the Houses of Parliament. Any panel invitation sent out at the behest of Lord Ahmed can be guaranteed to be a unique blend of conspiracy theorists, rabid anti-Semites and apologists for international terrorism. He has long been not just an embarrassment to the Labour party but an embarrassment to Parliament and a shame and disgrace to Britain.
The irony is acute. It was Tony Blair who put this terrible, unqualified and lying figure into the Lords in the first place. In a classic misconceived act, Ahmed was the only person ever put into the position he has so abused because the Labour party wanted Muslim peers. Instead of waiting and appointing Muslims who were qualified and decent and examples of moderation and tolerance, they appointed this extremist. There aren't many lessons to be taken from Lord Ahmed's career. But that Parliament never do this again should at least be one.