Column defending brit brings ‘sick’ NHS reply
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”