Leadership debate: BBC defends vetting process after Imam’s tweets

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The BBC has defended its vetting process after it emerged a guest on its leadership debate show had shared controversial tweets about Israel.

Imam Abdullah Patel said he was sure he had not criticised his Jewish “brothers”, but stood by criticism of Israeli policy.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Had we been aware of the views he expressed there he would not have been selected.”

Mr Patel has also been suspended as deputy head of a girls’ school.

Al-Ashraf primary school in Gloucester released a statement saying he had been suspended “from all school duties” while it investigated comments attributed to him in the media.

The BBC said it had carried out background research into all of the social media accounts of the guests.

“Following the debate, one individual reactivated a public twitter account he had previously deactivated, whose tweets were not visible during our research period,” said a spokesperson.

Speaking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Mr Patel said he had a very good relationship with the Jewish community.

“The criticism was not of the Jewish community because if you go through my tweets, you’d see support for the Jewish community,” he said.

“They’re our brothers and sisters, and the Jewish community and I – especially in Gloucester – work very closely together. We actually visited a synagogue just a while ago.”

However, he said he stood by any criticism of “Israel’s policy”.

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