I welcome the news from Surrey Police and CPS that, having “carried out a thorough and extensive review of the material in question” they have concluded that “no criminal offences have been committed. The matter has now been closed and no further action is being taken,” a conclusion which will come as no surprise to those who know and work with me.
On 4 October 2011, I posted a link to an essay Israel’s Window to Bomb Iran, by Ray McGovern, an ex-CIA analyst, commenting on circumstances in which Israel might attack Iran. Regrettably the link that I used was not to the original website but to a different website which I now know contained scurrilous and offensive material.
I was made aware of this on 3 January 2012 as a result of an enquiry by the Jewish Chronicle. I could not find the link and assumed, wrongly, that I had removed it. I found it on 4 January 2012 and removed it immediately. I have no wish to be associated with or to encourage anyone to read some of the things that I found on the site. I have on many occasions in my ministry condemned all forms of anti-Semitism and will continue so to do because it is abhorrent to me.
Some ten weeks later, on 13 March 2012, the Council for Christians and Jews posted an article on its website entitled CCJ Statement About Antisemitic Website. The CCJ had “drawn the attention of the Surrey police to what they claim was an action tantamount to encouraging race ‘hatred’.” The CCJ said that I was “alerted to the anti-Semitic nature of the website in November and again in December, but only removed the link in January when contacted by the Jewish Chronicle.”
The article does not identify the alleged circumstances in which I was alleged to have been alerted to the link. Whatever the CCJ might think has happened I have explained here how and when the link came to my attention. It did not come to my attention before then.
Surrey Police have told me that they are not going to prosecute me because there is no evidence that I have committed any crime, which I have not.
It might have been helpful if the CCJ had asked me for an explanation before writing about me on their website but they did not.
On 23rd April, CCJ issued a second statement CCJ Statement re Rev Stephen Sizer saying “The Council of Christians and Jews has now received the advice of the Surrey Police, together with that of the appropriate legal authorities”.
The CCJ is a venerable organisation with many distinguished supporters. I hoped that, having accused me of serious criminal conduct, it would want to make it clear that the police investigation has revealed no evidence to support my prosecution. So far the CCJ has not done that.
I did not commit any criminal offence when I posted a link to Ray McGovern’s article. I therefore have no intention of resigning my living or altering my ministry in any way.
If the CCJ does not feel able to make it clear that its allegations were ill founded it will, I hope, reflect on the reliability of its informants and think very hard before naming people who might in the future be the innocent victims of ill-considered complaints.
Revd Dr Stephen Sizer
1st May 2012
Jewish Rabbis, Professors, Academics, Clergy and Activists Challenge CCJ Statement
The Ugly Truth Exposed
A Sheep in Sheep’s Clothing?
Palestine Solidarity Campaign: AGM Repudiates Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial
See also letters from:
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, University of Wales
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Patron, Friends of Sabeel UK
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Exeter University
Venerable Michael Lawson, Rector of St Saviour’s, Guildford
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Biblelands
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
Church Times: Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times: Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Church Times: Dr Sizer is Cleared
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite’
Jewish Chronicle: Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time