Below is the full text of an email sent by Cllr. Mohammed Pappu (Labour, Blackwall & Cubitt Town) to all Tower Hamlets Councillors. LW was completely unaware of any of the various things Cllr. Pappu is apologising for but, as he specifically requests that he wants to sincerely apologise ‘to the wider community of Tower Hamlets’ we thought it would be nice to ensure that everyone, everywhere understands how sorry Cllr. Pappu is for everything ever. Both of our readers may remember that he has also been sorry for other things recently too – but the Standards Committee will not be taking any further action it seems.
Take it away Cllr. Pappu!
I am sorry that I will not be able to attend the Full Council Meeting on 21st November. As some people will know, my father has been critically ill in hospital for the last two weeks following a stroke, heart and kidney failure and I am looking after him and my Mum.
However, I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about recent events.
As you all know, some years before I joined the council, among thousands of other posts and messages, I was responsible for re-posting material which included anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and in one case a link to something which included some extreme religious content.
As soon as this came up, I referred myself to the Standards Committee and have now been notified that they intend to take no further action, given that I have made a full apology, that the incidents occurred before I was a Councillor, and that I have said I am willing to undergo training.
I wanted to let you know from my side what I am going to do next.
First of all I want to sincerely apologise to you and to every member of the Council, and through the Council to the wider community of Tower Hamlets.
I know that my actions let down my party and the borough and I am truly sorry.
As our Mayor has said, there is no place in our council, in our politics or in our society for the views represented in the material which I forwarded.
What is most distressing for me is that these are absolutely not my views either.
I have not written or said these things. I did not create the material.
I very stupidly shared material written by other people without thinking, without reading it properly and without thinking through the implications.
That is no excuse and I do not seek to avoid taking the responsibility.
Before I got more involved in politics I honestly did not understand how anti-Semitic conspiracies and messages are embedded into a lot of political material.
Over the last year particularly I have come to understand this and how this translates to the Jewish community, and the hurt and fear it can cause.
I am proud that this borough has a long tradition of fighting racism in all its forms.
I am proud to live in the borough where 82 years ago the local community stood up together against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts and to protect our Jewish neighbours at Cable Street.
I am proud to live in the borough where acting together our community saw off the British National Party and more recently the threat of the English Defence League.
I was proud to be in this chamber at the last Full Council in September when we all agreed to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
After approving the IHRA motion, I was proud to go to Labour conference, where I attended the Labour Friends of Israel event to show solidarity with the Jewish Community.
In that room I met a lot of people – Jewish and non Jewish – including from the Israeli Labour Party, who have fundamental concerns about Israeli foreign policy and policy towards Palestine.
But they showed me that this can – and must – be totally separate from how we talk about and how we treat Jewish people.
So I have to tell you I am in a very different place from where I was years ago, before I put myself forward to be a member of this council.
That is why 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.
It was wrong. I am sorry.
One other thing I want to make clear is that in some of the reporting of this issue there was an allegation that The Charities I have been involved with, was a forum for spreading anti-Jewish messages.
Anyone who knows these charities and the good work they do will know that this is just not true.
The charity’s I was involved with, main activities is promoting sport and football and they do a good job for a lot of young people.
For the record, at the time I re-posted those messages, I was not using my social media in relation with them.
It is right to investigate and check these things, and to make sure that our children are protected from hateful material.
But we should not attack long standing community groups when they are absolutely innocent of these accusations.
They are run by hardworking volunteers and I am very sorry to everyone involved in those charities that they were dragged into this issue by my actions.
But my apologies are not good enough.
I have been in a position of responsibility during my life. Particularly with young people.
I have been a role model.
It would be tragic if nobody learned anything from what has happened.
It would be tragic if nothing changed.
So I will make this commitment today.
I am going to make it part of my life from now on to call out those who promote anti-Semitism.
Colleagues will know very well the huge amount of rubbish there is out there on the internet.
I was stupid enough to click on 2 or 3 of these messages.
Never, never again.
I am going to make it my job to help educate my generation and the next generation that this stops now.
I have seen people saying I should resign. [See LW Comment below – yes you should, Ed.]
I have thought spent a long time thinking about it.
But actually I think it would be a mistake. It would be avoiding my responsibility.
And nothing would change.
So I will continue to work hard for the local residents of Blackwall and Cubitt Town.
I will put myself through whatever investigation and training is necessary so that I can make the change in myself.
And then I will take that message out into the community.
I am not going to be part of the problem.
I am going to be part of fixing the problem.
So I will not ask for forgiveness.
Instead I ask for your help,
Let us all work together.
Help me stamp out this hateful anti-Semitic conspiracy nonsense from our Borough, and educate people about all forms of racial and religious hatred.
Let us not just sign up to say we won’t tolerate hate.
Let us do something about it.
Cllr Mohammed Pappu.”
Cllr. Pappu says “I have seen people saying I should resign. But actually I think it would be a mistake. It would be avoiding my responsibility. And nothing would change.”
We have to take issue with Cllr. Pappu here in that (a) he should resign (b) it would be right thing to do and he would gain some measure of respect (c) it would be facing up to his responsibility and (d) it would change things because it would show that there is no room for any elected representative to endorse anti-Semitic views by reposting them on social media, irrespective of any excuses given at a later date.
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