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Pickles told to apologise after anti-Semitism blunder

By Alexander Britton

Calls have been made for Sir Eric Pickles to apologise personally to a council leader over false claims he posted alleged anti-Semitic remarks on social media.

Mr Pickles wrote to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calling for John Clarke to be suspended after sharing a tweet appearing to contain slurs against Israel.

However, the letter from Sir Eric refers to John Clarke as leader of Gedling Borough Council in Nottinghamshire, while the posts came from an account linked to another John Clarke, who sits on Black Notley Parish Council in Essex.

Sir Eric, chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, wrote: “This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that Labour is committed to the new definition of anti-Semitism, and I would urge you to seize it and suspend John Clarke as a member of the Labour party, and from the Gedling Borough Council group.

“Failure to do so would be an appalling dereliction of duty to Jewish people across the country and will raise serious questions about your commitment to stamping out anti-Semitism.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “We apologise to councillor Clarke for the mistake made.”

Michael Payne, deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: “It’s an outrageous slur against John and we’re calling on Mr Pickles to apologise.”

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