Tracked down, but Sir Gerald still won’t talk
THE PALACE of Westminster’s Star Chamber was originally a law court during the 16th century reign of Henry VII.
These days, the courtyard that bears the chamber’s name is a poorly lit car park overlooked by MPs’ offices.
OnMondayitservedasthebackdrop for the final act in one of the least appetisingchaptersof thecurrentParliament.
Since Labour’s Sir Gerald Kaufman made his comments to the Palestine Return Centre a fortnight ago, the 85-year-old MP has refused to respond to media enquiries. With no speaking appearances in the Commons this month, little has been seen of him.
Tipped off that he was hiding out in his office, I set about tracking down the man who believes “Jewish money” has influenced the government.
After a couple of abortive attempts to locate room 218 — including a lengthy shlep up and back down a Hogwartsstyle stone staircase — I found the second-floor corridor. One of Westminster’s more drab locations, it is also home to Sir Gerald’s fellow Labour MP Andy Slaughter, the man who had followed him to the microphone at the PRC. Their offices are just yards apart.
All was quiet in this hub of hatred. The lights were on in Sir Gerald’s room, but would anyone be home?
I knocked gently on the Father of the House of Commons’s door. “Come in,” came a creaky voice.
Pushing the door open I discovered a sickly looking Sir Gerald, not behind his desk working, but reclining in an oversized armchair. Had I woken the Manchester Gorton MP from a lateafternoon shluf?
Stepping inside I offered my hand and explained that I was the JC’s political correspondent. “You can go away,” was the response. Sir Gerald spoke without raising his head from the chair. He was wearing a lurid shirt and tie combo, arguably one of the trademarks of his 45 years in the Commons.
“I don’t want to speak to you, I don’t want to speak to the Jewish Chronicle,” he said.
But did he not want to explain his comments, or even apologise for them?
He was unmoved. “I resent you barging in here in this fashion. You can go away now,” the pallid politician repeated.
So that is it; no further action from Labour, no further comment from Sir Gerald, and an unhappy line drawn under the sordid episode.
Sir Gerald: “I don’t want to speak to the Jewish Chronicle”