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Solicitor who made anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist Facebook comments handed 12-month suspension

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He dared a member of the public to report him, so they did

A law firm partner who made anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist posts on social media has been slapped with a 12-month suspension and £25,000 fine by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Using his personal Facebook account, which stated that he was a solicitor, Majid Mahmood, 40, made a number of “despicable” comments about Zionists and Jewish people, according to an SDT judgment published this week.

In October 2015, responding to what the criminal specialist said was a video showing Israeli defence forces killing woman and children, he wrote:

Somebody needs to shoot all the Israeli Zionists dead then send their bodies to America as a present for Obama and his Zionist pals.

When confronted by fellow a Facebook user who asked him what the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) would make of his post, he said (errors left in):

Yeah feel free to report me. Don’t see you saying much about the atrocities committed by the Zionist’s. It’s freedom of speech. But Funny how after having views the killing of innocent children and the systematic assassination of people by a nation that is fuelled by greed all you can do is threaten me that you would report me to the SRA. Don’t read my comments if you don’t like them.

Unfortunately for Mahmood, the member of the public took his advice and reported him to the regulator.

In February 2016, Mahmood — a partner at Luton outfit City Law Chambers at the time — fired off another comment, this time on a Facebook page called ‘Israel is a War Criminal’. In response to an article about Jewish refugees being flown to Israel, he wrote (errors left in):

The ain’t gods chosen people they’re Satans love child’s and it’s a sham e the plane carrying them didn’t blow up mid air.

A further post, in response to a comment posted by another user, he said (again errors left in):

Condoning… Read the words, but as a typical Zionist Israeli tear you can try and twist the words. Mad don’t threaten me go and fuck yourself.

This exchange was flagged up to the SRA by the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism. It was at this point that Mahmood, now a director at Luton firm Liberty Law Solicitors, deleted his Facebook account.

According to the judgment, Mahmood — who also handles immigration work according to his firm website — accepted that the comments were “offensive and wholly inappropriate,” however denied they were anti-Semitic. Further, he accepted that his October 2015 post was anti-Zionist but maintained that it was not anti-Semitic.

In relation to his 2015 posts, the tribunal found that Mahmood had “crossed a line” and “acted without integrity”. Moreover, the three-person panel criticised him for his “entirely dismissive” response to the member of the public who challenged him. However, the SDT, following a very lengthy debate involving three different definitions of anti-Semitism, concluded this comment was not anti-Semitic.

As for Mahmood’s 2016 comments, the tribunal had this to say: “The respondent’s post in which he suggested that it was a shame that a plane carrying people did not blow up in mid-air whatever the context of that comment to be wholly indefensible.” The SDT concluded that this comment was anti-Semitic.

In an interesting aside, the SDT noted that it was irrelevant that Mahmood was posting on Facebook in a private capacity. “Being a solicitor was not a feature of one’s being that one could switch on and off as one chose,” it warned.

Giving evidence at the hearing, Mahmood suggested, among other things, that it was Facebook’s fault for drawing him in to controversial debates. He also argued that that he was not anti-Semitic and had two Jewish friends who were barristers. The SDT noted that neither provided testimonials for him.

Mahmood was handed 12-month suspension (suspended for a further 12 months) and fined £25,000. He will also pay around £9,500 in costs.

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