Searchlight Magazine

Parliamentary platform denied to associate of Holocaust deniers

An “anti-war” meeting at the House of Lords that was to feature a close associate of antisemites and Holocaust deniers has been cancelled after its host apparently learned about the background of the people who had been invited.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, the (currently suspended) Labour peer, was to chair the meeting in room 3A at the Palace of Westminster on 13 June. The main speaker was to be James Thring, a retired architect who was active in various peace and anti-war organisations at the same time as sharing platforms and consorting with several figures on the extreme right including Holocaust deniers and supporters of the repressive Iranian regime of President Ahmadinejad.

Revealing this meeting on Monday, Searchlight said that Thring was a close confidant of the veteran antisemite Lady Jane Birdwood and, after David Irving’s imprisonment in Austria in 2005 for Holocaust denial, was among those who demonstrated outside the Austrian Embassy for his release. Since then, Thring has stepped up his links with the far right and has developed a close relationship with Lady Michèle Renouf, Irving’s chief defender and a vocal antisemite. Thring and Renouf share enthusiasm for the Iranian regime.

Lord Ahmed said he did not know the background of the people invited to the meeting. However even the most perfunctory internet research would reveal Thring’s background. We would expect a Member of the House of Lords, especially one already in some trouble, to have checked before booking a room in the Palace of Westminster and agreeing to chair the meeting.

Although Lord Ahmed has cancelled the booking, he has not made any public statement. Given Thring’s documented activities with the extreme right, it is clear that he has no place in any left-leaning peace or anti-war movement. We call first of all for Lord Ahmed to distance himself from Thring publicly, and secondly for all genuine peace activists and campaigners such as Stop the War to have nothing to do with him or his associates.

© 2013 Searchlight Magazine Ltd, PO Box 1576, Ilford IG5 0NG

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