BREAKING: Lib Dem leader Tim Farron sacks Bradford East candidate David Ward

David Ward
David Ward
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The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has sacked the party's scandal-hit candidate for Bradford East, David Ward.

The move follows a raucous PMQs, in which both the Prime Minister and outgoing Tory MP slammed the Lib Dems over its failure to tackle anti-Semitism.

Announcing his decision, Mr Farron said councillor Ward is "unfit to represent the party".

"I believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united," he said.

Mr Ward has been at the centre of a number of anti-Semitism rows in recent years, and faced temporary suspension from the party in 2013 for comments condemning Israel's treatment of Palestine.

The party ruled that his comparison between Israel's actions and the Holocaust risked bringing the party "into disrepute".

In 2015 the former MP caused controversy again after using the word "genocide" to describe the Middle Eastern state's policies.

Speaking at the time, former leader Nick Clegg said the comments were "crass and insensitive".

Mr Ward lost his Bradford East seat to Labour's Imran Hussain in the 2015 general election.

The announcement that he had been selected to contest the seat in June's snap election sparked a fierce backlash overnight, including calls for Mr Farron to intervene.

During today's PMQs, Theresa May unleashed a broadside at the Liberal Democrats for putting forward a candidate "with questionable views on anti-Semitism".

Earlier in the day, Mr Farron had condemned both Mr Ward for standing and the local party for supporting him - but claimed it was not his role to "select our individual candidates".

I am fully aware of the comments David Ward has made in the past and I find them deeply offensive, wrong and anti-Semitic,” he told Politics Home.

“I think his decision to stand again, and the local party’s decision to select him, is wrong and I disagree with it completely.

“I don't select our individual candidates and nor should I. But let me be clear, I won't tolerate anti-Semitism in my party.

“David Ward has been disciplined in the past and if he or anyone else makes anti-Semitic remarks in this campaign I will expect the party to act quickly and decisively, as we did when we suspended a candidate in Luton South yesterday.”