Tracked down, but Sir Ger­ald still won’t talk

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

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.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Sir Ger­ald: “I don’t want to speak to the Jewish Chron­i­cle”

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