Ed Miliband threatens to sue Jewish Telegraph over Israel comments

Ed Miliband (Reuters / Neil Hall)
Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband threatened a Jewish newspaper with legal action after it planned to publish comments he made about Israel to the media mogul Richard Desmond.

The Jewish Telegraph reported on Friday that Miliband was “furious” about allegations made by the owner of the Daily Express and threatened the paper with legal action as it went to print Thursday evening.

The Jewish Telegraph reported that Desmond, the owner of the Express newspaper, had claimed Miliband “verbally attacked” Israel when the pair met on Hampstead Heath in north London.

A spokesman for Miliband, who had seen a full transcript of Desmond’s interview with the Jewish Telegraph, warned the paper they would face legal action if the interview is published.

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“You should expect legal action and/or a complaint to the press watchdog if you go ahead with publication.”

“You should be aware that we regard this account as highly defamatory,” they added.

Desmond, who was revealed as one of the UK Independence Party’s biggest donors during the election campaign, claimed that his conversation with Miliband took place without any other witnesses sometime between December and January.

“I was having a cup of tea when I bumped into Ed and asked him if it was true he had made all these comments about Israel,” he said.

The newspaper owner added that Miliband was “in such a rage. I couldn’t stop him – he was going berserk [about Israel’s actions].”

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Miliband angered Jewish community leaders in London during the summer of 2014 when he openly condemned the actions of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, which claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians, most of which were civilians.

Speaking in the USA in July 2014 he said: “I don’t think it will help win Israel friends ... I don’t think this will make the situation better. I fear it will make it worse.” He also condemned the “horrifying deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.”

Desmond told the Jewish Chronicle that Miliband made remarks about Israel which the paper subsequently chose not to publish – claims the former Labour leader’s spokesperson denies.

“This is an untrue account of a chance meeting. There was no rage or row. Ed did not use the language ascribed to him. He expressed views he has expressed in public many times before,” the spokesperson added.