Col­umn de­fend­ing brit brings ‘sick’ NHS re­ply

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

A HOSPI­TAL em­ployee is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter he used a Na­tional Health Ser­vice email ac­count to launch a fe­ro­cious at­tack on the colum­nist Do­minic Law­son, cit­ing Mr Law­son’s Jewish back­ground in con­demn­ing a col­umn in defence of cir­cum­ci­sion.

The email de­nounced cir­cumci- sion as an op­er­a­tion car­ried out by a “semi-pae­dophile with a bar­baric in­stru­ment”, in re­sponse to a col­umn in The In­de­pen­dent by Mr Law­son. This cited med­i­cal ex­perts who be­lieved that the prac­tice could re­duce the risk of can­cer and sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease.

The email was signed in the name of Klav Zarins, com­puter man­ager in the re­nal de­part­ment at the Ed­in­burgh Royal In­fir­mary, and car­ried an NHS ad­dress.

It read: “So, your con­tention is that, if a child’s fore­skin is hacked off by some se­nile, delu­sional, semi-pae­dophile with a bar­baric in­stru­ment de­signed by some il­lit­er­ate shep­herd over a cou­ple of thou­sand years ago, it pre­vents can­cer. Good luck with find­ing fund­ing for that propo­si­tion. Is be­ing Jewish de­pen­dent on never find­ing fault with Jewish cus­tom?” As an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by NHS Loth­ian got un­der way, Mr Law­son, for­mer ed­i­tor of the Sun­day

Tele­graph, said that he had ex­pected dif­fi­cult re­sponses to his col­umn, but in this case he felt that the email was “a bit sick”. “It’s one thing to say some­thing like this pri­vately, but to do so on an of­fi­cial NHS e-mail is im­proper.”

Janis Brown, as­so­ci­ate di­rec­tor and em­ployee-re­la­tions man­ager of NHS Loth­ian, said the author­ity did not tol­er­ate any form of dis­crim­i­na­tion. She added: “Al­le­ga­tions of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct have been made about a mem­ber of NHS Loth­ian staff and th­ese are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a mat­ter of ur­gency.”

The hospi­tal’s com­plaints man­ager, Neil Healy, who is run­ning the in­quiry, said: “We are ad­dress­ing this mat­ter for­mally. Any such mat­ter and any such con­cern is taken very, very se­ri­ously.”

He de­clined to say if Mr Zarins, who was un­avail­able for com­ment, had been sus­pended from duty.

A spokesman for the Scot­tish Ex­ec­u­tive, which runs health ser­vices in Scot­land, said it would not be ap­pro­pri­ate for the body to com­ment on a case un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

How­ever, he added: “There is no doubt that such a case would be a mat­ter of se­ri­ous con­cern.”

Jon Ben­jamin, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Board of Deputies, called for NHS Loth­ian to “take a firm line on this”. He said: “The email has noth­ing to do with any ra­tio­nal dis­cus­sion about cir­cum­ci­sion. The lan­guage and calum­nies it con­tains quite sim­ply re­veal the sender to be a racist.”

Do­minic Law­son: email “im­proper”

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