Reinstate Paul Jonson! - Statement of support
Defend trade unionists’ right to free speech! Defend employment rights!
Paul Jonson, a community safety officer in Dudley and a member of Unison, has been suspended by his employer, Dudley Council.

According to a report in the local press, Paul was suspended by Dudley Council for a Facebook post stating “Stand up for Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavor”.

Paul is a long-standing anti-racist activist and campaigner against antisemitism and all forms of racism. He is also an active campaigner for Palestinian rights.

Whatever one’s views on Israel or the nature of the Israeli state and its founding, there is nothing antisemitic about this statement.

Paul's suspension is an attack on every trade unionist’s right to engage in political and human rights’ campaigns outside work; it is an attack on employees’ right to freedom speech and specifically an attack on the right to campaign over Palestinian rights.

The complaint against Paul cited the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

According to the IHRA’s own website, the “working definition” has no legal standing. This has been further confirmed in a robust legal opinion by Hugh Tomlinson QC.[1] The IHRA definition and examples have also been subject to a thorough examination of its status and premises by former Appeal Court judge, Stephen Sedley [2].

The proponents of the IHRA definition repeatedly gave assurances that it could not be used to suppress free speech on Israel and Palestine. These assurances appear to be empty in Paul Jonson’s case.

We are calling on all trade unionists and campaigners, whatever their views on Israel and Palestine, to sign this statement to demand Paul's immediate reinstatement and that any disciplinary action by Dudley Council against him be dropped.

[1] Tomlinson, Hugh, 2017. In the matter of the adoption and potential application of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. Legal Opinion by Hugh Tomlinson, QC, Matrix Chambers, 8 March.
[2] Sedley, Stephen, 2017. “Defining Antisemitism”, London Review of Books, Vol 39, No.9, 4 May.

Initial signatories:
Andrew Maybury Secretary Dudley TUC and UNISON
Gail Mason, President of Dudley TUC & Joint Secretary, Dudley NEA (NUT Section);
Martin Lynch, President of Walsall TUC;
Lisa Pearce, Joint Sec. Dudley NEA (NUT Section);
Rob Ferguson, Newham NEU, Publicity Officer
James Warner, Assistant Secretary, Dudley TUC and Officer, Dudley NEA (NUT Section)

Additional signatories include
John Chalcraft, Professor of Middle East History and Politics, London School of Economics
Glyn Secker, Secretary, Jewish Voice for Labour
Nita Sanghera, Vice President, UCU
Professor Megan Povey, University of Leeds
Claude Baesens, Associate Professor, University of Warwick
Lindsey German, Convenor ,Stop the War Coalition
Chris Nineham, Vice Chair, Stop the War Coalition

Luisete Batista, UNISON, National Executive (Low Paid Seat)
David Hughes, UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive (pc)
Sandy Nicoll, UNISON NEC, (HE General Seat)
Nick Ruff, Chair, Kirklees UNISON
Mark Sage, Portsmouth City UNISON, International Officer
Duncan Smith, Branch Chair, Edinburgh UNISON
Mirfat Suleiman, UNISON BME self-organising group
Clare Wormald, Branch Secretary, Southend UNISON (local government)

Ian Ampleford, Secretary, North Notts Unite Community
Jay Blackwood, Chair, Bristol Area Community Branch, UNITE
Janine Broderick, UNISON
Patricia Campbell, UNISON
Jonathan Cooper, UNISON & Equity
Oliver Collenette, Birmingham Stop the War Coalition
Alison Cotteril, UNISON
Steve Cushion, Branch Secretary, UCU London Retired Members
Michael Dance, NEU, rep
Eugene Docherty, President Lancaster Trades Council & NEU
Sabina Ebert-Forbes, UNISON
Jenifer Flintoft, Secretary, Portsmouth Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Tony Foley, Committee member, Birminham NEU
Morag Gillie, UNISON
Clive Healiss, UNISON
Tom Hickey, Committee member, University of Brighton UCU
Fatema Hickson, UNISON
Konnie Lloyd, UNISON
Marian Mayer, Chair Southern Region UCU
Salman Mirza, UNISON rep
Beverley Molyneux, UNISON
Ben Morris, Assistant Secretary, Redbridge NEU
Janet Morrow, UNISON
Simon Murch, NEU NEC, South Yorkshire
Diana Neslen UNISON
Simon O’Hara, NEU
Kieren Picken, Secretary, City of Derby NEU
Stuart Richardson, Treasurer, Birmingham TUC
LM Santamera, Secretary, Central Branch, Liverpool Riverside CLP
Michael Szpakowski, Branch Chair, Writtle University College UCU
Sam Strudwick, UNISON
Andrew Stone, Branch Secretary, Wandsworth NEU
Brian Todd, UNISON
Ursula Walker, Treasurer, Walsall NEU
Phil Ward, UNISON
Julie Webster, PCS (rep)
Ivan Wells, Notts NEU, International Officer
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