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GPhC: Pharmacist’s ‘grossly offensive’ remarks result in FtP warning

Mr Ali apologised "unreservedly to anyone...who was offended" by his comments
Mr Ali apologised "unreservedly to anyone...who was offended" by his comments

A pharmacist has been issued a warning by the GPhC following some comments he made at a pro-Palestinian rally that could have been interpreted as anti-Semitic.

Nazim Hussain Ali (2041615) was served a warning to behave in line with GPhC standards following “grossly offensive” comments he made at an Al Quds Day rally on June 18, 2017, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise committee heard at a hearing that took place between October 26 and November 5.

During the rally, where the regulator noted he was not acting “in his professional capacity”, Mr Ali was identifiable as a pharmacist “by means of social media” while making comments that the GPhC committee found offensive, it said.

Mr Ali claimed that “The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party… are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell [Tower]”, a comment that the GPhC fitness-to-practise committee found “utterly appalling”.

The registrant, who was present at the hearing, read a statement in which he said he is not and has never been anti-Semitic. “I deeply regret” the episode and “wish to apologise unreservedly to anyone who does not know me and who was offended by my comments on 18 June 2017”, he added.

Mr Ali said his intention at the rally was to “highlight oppression against the Palestinian cause” and that “he had never intended any offence or anti-Semitism”.

The committee considered Mr Ali’s apology “genuine and heartfelt” but said that, through his words, the registrant “had caused real harm” both to people and “the reputation of the profession”.

Warning as sanction

Mr Ali is the managing partner of Chelsea Pharmacy in London and also performs as a stand-up comedian.

He has participated in the Al Quds Day rally for many years. Leading the rally in June 2017, he made further comments that were viewed by some as anti-Semitic.

The committee heard that he said words to the effect of: “It’s in their genes. The Zionists are here to occupy Regent Street.

And “any Zionist, any Jew coming into your centre supporting Israel, any Jew coming into your centre who is a Zionist. Any Jew coming into your centre who is a member for the Board of Deputies, is not a Rabbi, he’s an imposter.”

The committee heard from some of the people who were present at the rally, one of whom said that they considered what Mr Ali said, “was anti-Semitic, which means racist against Jews”.

Having taken into account the context in which the comments were made, the GPhC committee concluded that “most reasonable people” would not consider most comments as anti-Semitic.

The committee clarified that the term "reasonable people" did not include "any of the bystanders on the day with a selective view of events, nor indeed someone who had only subsequently watched the YouTube footage".

However, the committee found that the comments about Grenfell Tower – which Mr Ali himself found to be “grossly offensive” – had “brought disgrace upon the profession”, as pharmacy professionals are required to behave “appropriately at all times”.

The registrant had not made similar comments at the Al Quds Day rallies in 2018 and 2019 and “a further event online” and many of those who gave testimonials “spoke very highly” of him, the GPhC learned.

However, the committee found that given the offence caused by the registrant, “impairment is required to maintain public confidence in the profession”. It therefore handed a warning down to Mr Ali.

Read the full determination here.

12 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the GPhC's FtP committee's decision?

R A, Community pharmacist

For once I can understand the reasons of FtP for reprimanding him. However to be clear the issue was for making 'baseless accusations' not for making statements that can be construed as anti-semetic. Zionism is a poltical movement on the other hand anti-semitism is prejudicial against an individiual of semtic heritage or belonging to the Jewish faith. GPhC needs to provide clarification for reprimanding him for bringing the profession into disrepute. 

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Messy business, just shows you that we all need to be careful with social media and how things can go viral. Lesson for all pharmcists. Regretable comments but a heartfelt apology has to be accepted and a line drawn under it.

Mohammed Shabir, Community pharmacist

What a sad state of affairs. Hat's off to the GPhC who managed to extricate themselves from this messy affair. They would have been criticised whatever the verdict. The Israel / Palestine issue is close to so many people's hearts, they go to extreme's to justify there own positions.

Just like the pharmacist did in this situation. 

and the other side are no better presenting 2 so called neutral witnesses, 1 being a parent of an Israeli army volunteer and the other being someone attending the potest on the off chance. (i think the counter protest). 

well-done GPhC. (i dont say that often) 

What a 

Oliver Staunton, Information Technology

This is a very interesting case, and I'm glad that the FtP committee went into so much detail (as always) to document the decision making process. The registrant has accepted and admitted that his remarks were offensive and has denied and successfully argued that the remarks were antisemitic. However he had made an exceptional effort to represent himself with an 84 page dossier including many character references, and I wonder if the outcome would have been different if the registrant simply didn't attend as can sometimes happen with FtP cases.

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

 

I wonder if you have actually read the entire case? His barrister who was excellent (his famous cases as listed on his website - 2017 R v Mashoud Miah. Central Criminal Court. (Charity worker who aided insurgents in Syria after Aleppo bombing) First successful acquittal of terrorism offences on grounds of self defence--- and 2016 R v Bashir. Central Criminal Court. (speeches supporting ISIS with ~Isabella Forshall QC). ), and seemed to run rings around the GPhC barrister - 

Here is one of the closing paragraphs from the FtP committee - 

"The Committee having found misconduct then went on to consider whether the Registrant currently is impaired. It considered that the Registrant had demonstrated good levels of insight. It noted that during his evidence the Registrant initially resisted the idea that he was constrained in his private life when making comments that could and would be offensive. However, during the giving of his evidence he did later accept that he was under a duty to adhere to and comply with all the Standards for Pharmacy Professionals, including Standard 6. That late realisation aside, the Committee considered that in all other respects his insight was reasonably well founded."

--

Translation - he initially denied it, but then when he realised they were being serious he 'realised' and he should apologise - that sounds legit.

Also when asked if he realised that he had to comply with Standard 6 of the GPhC which is to be professional at all times in and out of work - his response - 

"‘As a pharmacist it does. Because it’s part of the code of conduct that I need to abide by. But I’m speaking to now at this very moment. I can see it does but at the time that – you know, maybe it’s failing on most of us pharmacists, we don’t read all our code of conducts and so on and so forth. I’ll be quite frank, I’ll be surprised if many do. We only read it when it applies to us in this matter’."

So his defence was that although he makes a declaration every year that he has read and will abide by the standards - he actually never has - and its not really my fault, nobody reads them.  

I would encourage you all to actually read the judgement, and see if it fits in with what we have seen in the past few years as outcomes to FtP and if this fits with what you expect someone of your profession to behave like. 

D S, Community pharmacist

What he said was clearly antisemitic but due to the fact that he has Jewish customers(obviously unaware of his views) and a clever barrister he got off lightly. Shame he's so inarticulate otherwise he would have surely been struck off.

Oliver Staunton, Information Technology

I don't think his remarks were antisemitic, and the FtP committee also determined that the remarks aren't antisemitic. In any case, why would he be struck off? Do you think he poses a danger to people?

Aldosterone antagonist, Locum pharmacist

Oliver, its amazing you don't see that its an issue. He is inciting hate.

D S, Community pharmacist

Hi Oliver,
Unfortunately the comments he megaphoned across central London posed a potentially huge threat to Jewish people. He incited hatred of Jews and we all know where that can lead. This judgement actually made me feel uncomfortable to be a pharmacist. That's very sad.

Oliver Staunton, Information Technology

I don't agree with his comments, but I do agree with the determinations of the committee. The full link is in the article, and I think it is a very interesting read

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Is this not inciting racial hatred? Which is a crime as far as I am aware?

David Kent, Community pharmacist

Whether he was acting in a 'professional capacity' or not he has brought the profession into disrepute by his abonimable comments and should be brought to beeok for them.  To separate anti-zionism rom anti-semitism is not relevant.

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