Clacton Labour candidate quits over anti-semitism allegations
PUBLISHED: 11:32 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 08 November 2019
The Labour candidate for Clacton has withdrawn from the election after being accused of directing an anti-semitic comment to a fellow councillor in north London.
Gideon Bull is a cabinet member at Haringey Borough Council in London and used the term "Shylock" - a reference to the character in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice - during a private meeting.
He denied this was directed towards fellow cabinet member Zena Brabazon, who is Jewish, and said he had been referring to a housing decision being called in by council backbenchers.
He said in a statement: "The allegation that I called a Jewish cabinet member 'Shylock' is entirely false. When she politely informed me that this saying was offensive, I immediately apologised and explained that I did not know that Shylock was Jewish and I would never have mentioned Shylock if I had known this.
"I grew up in a working class area in Ilford where this was a common saying, but I didn't know it was offensive.
"This was a genuine accident and I reiterate my sincere apology for this mistake."
The Campaign Against Antisemitism's head of political and government investigations Joe Glasman said Mr Bull's comment is "unacceptable".
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"Gideon Bull's comment, in which he called a Jewish fellow councillor 'Shylock', after the villainous Shakespearean Jewish character, was unacceptable, and of course he had to withdraw his candidacy," Mr Glasman told the PA news agency.
"Not a day goes by without a revelation about a Labour candidate's troubling record in relation to Jews, exemplifying the institutional anti-Semitism of the party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn."
Mr Bull is the third Labour candidate to step down in one day.
Scottish candidate for Gordon Kate Ramsden quit after a controversial blog emerged in which she compared Israel to a child abuser.
Her resignation came at the same time as Labour lost another candidate - Frances Hoole in Edinburgh South West - following a controversial tweet.
The Labour Party and Ms Brabazon did not respond to requests for comments.
Mr Bull was unveiled as the Labour candidate for Clacton - where the party came second in the 2017 general election nearly 16,000 votes.