‘Antisemitic Facebook post’ councillor Pappu stays away from Tower Hamlets Council’s meeting

Mohammed Pappu remains a Tower Hamlets coucillor for Blackwall and Cubitt Town. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mohammed Pappu remains a Tower Hamlets coucillor for Blackwall and Cubitt Town. Picture: Mike Brooke and (inset) LBTH - Credit: Mike Brooke/LBTH

The councillor at the centre of the row over having shared antisemitic posts on social media was absent from last night’s Tower Hamlets Council meeting after circulating a full apology over his past views.

Cllr Pappu's suspension from Labour reported in the Advertiser, October 11, 2018.

Cllr Pappu's suspension from Labour reported in the Advertiser, October 11, 2018. - Credit: Archant

Mohammed Pappu, who resigned from the council’s scrutiny committee when the controversy erupted last month, is still listed as a Labour councillor despite the party suspending him.

He has now apologised in a 1,000-word email circulated to councillors for not be able to attend the town hall monthly meeting because his father has been critically ill.

His email, leaked to the Advertiser, admits re-posting material two years ago with antisemitic conspiracy theories and a link to extremist religious content.

“I want to apologise to the council and the wider community,” his email says. “There is no place for the views represented in the material which I forwarded.”

The row broke out over posts he shared on Facebook before he won a seat in May’s local council elections.

But his email insists: “I did not create the material, but stupidly shared it without thinking, or reading it properly or thinking through the implications.

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“I honestly did not understand how antisemitic conspiracies and messages are embedded into political material and have come to understand how this translates to the Jewish community and the hurt and fear it can cause.”

One post shared by the 26-year-old councillor, reported in the Advertiser on October 11, claimed Israel had carried out the 9/11 attack, the London Underground bombings and the Paris terrorist attacks.

He also shared an antisemitic image on social media in 2016, five days after the RAF bombed Islamic State targets in Syria, showing President Assad having an imaginary conversation with a classic antisemitic smear.

The East End had stood with the Jewish community in 1936 against Mosley’s Blackshirts trying to march through Whitechapel, Cllr Pappu acknowledged, and more recently had seen off the BNP and EDL.

“I am horrified and ashamed that someone was able to dig through my old social media posts and find material which I now know is offensive,” his email adds. “It was wrong. I was stupid enough to click on two or three of these messages - never, never again.”

He spoke of being a role model involved with a charity promoting sport for young people, and pledged to make it part of his life “from now on” to “call out those who promote antisemitism”.

But he isn’t resigning from the council despite calls for him to quit. Cllr Pappu thinks it would be a “mistake” and would be avoiding his responsibility.

A town hall spokesman said: “Cllr Pappu has admitted sharing offensive posts on social media before elected a councillor.

“His admission means a formal investigation to determine whether it took place is not required.”

The council’s standards advisory committee is unlikely to recommend more serious sanctions because of Cllr Pappu’s admissions and resigning from positions of responsibility.

Councillors voted unanimously in September to adopt the antisemitism definition set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The Advertiser had no response to attempts to contact to Cllr Pappu today. He remains an independent councillor for Blackwall and Cubitt Town with a promise to put himself through “whatever investigation and training is necessary” to make the change.

He doesn’t ask forgiveness, but for help to stamp out “this hateful antisemitic conspiracy nonsense”.