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Police investigate academic’s call to ‘blow up’ Jewish Labour conference venue

Harriet Bradley has said she can now see that her tweet was a ‘terrible mistake in awful taste’
Harriet Bradley has said she can now see that her tweet was a ‘terrible mistake in awful taste’

Police are investigating a University of Bristol emeritus professor for suggesting on social media that someone should “blow up the venue” of a Jewish Labour conference.

Harriet Bradley wrote the comment on X, formerly known as Twitter, under a post that said shadow cabinet members Wes Streeting and Bridget Phillipson were due to speak at the event.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed that it had recorded the post as an “incident of malicious communications” and it was being investigated.

Campaigners against anti-Semitism have described the message as a “shocking threat” and “utterly disgraceful”.

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The Jewish Labour Movement, which organised the conference, has written to the University of Bristol, urging it to “send a powerful message about the lack of tolerance” it has for “such hateful, highly dangerous and inflammatory behaviour”.

Ms Bradley, 78, said the remark was a joke but apologised for anyone who had been “hurt, offended or frightened”.

Her comment on Monday was a reply to a post by another user. The original author had captioned a list of speakers at the JLM’s One Day Conference with the comment: “If you wanted to know where you can find every racist, nonce and s—house in Britain, now you know.”

Ms Bradley shared the message and added her comment: “Somebody blow up the venue!” The tweet was still visible on Thursday morning, but had been deleted by the site by midday for violating its rules.

The post on X to which Harriet Bradley added her comment
The post on X to which Harriet Bradley added her comment

She was formerly a Labour councillor but was suspended in 2019 after she captioned a photo with the quote: “the right kind of Jews – ie Left voters”. She was later reinstated before stepping down in June 2020, citing long-term ill-health.

In her apology, she said: “It was a remark made as a joke, but I can see now it was a terrible mistake in awful taste.” She said she was of Jewish heritage and had “great respect for the Jewish people and their terrible historical sufferings”.

Ms Bradley is understood to have been granted the honorary status of emeritus professor by both the University of Bristol and the University of West England after she retired as a sociology professor. She was listed by the University of Bristol as an expert and emeritus professor on its website until Wednesday, but the page is no longer available.

A University of Bristol spokesman said: “We are deeply dismayed by the inflammatory comment on social media from a former employee who has long retired, and are taking appropriate action.”

A University of West England spokesman said Ms Bradley’s permanent employment had ended in 2018 but in May this year she had been brought to work on a short-term project.

The spokesman added: “Now that we have been made aware of her recent posts on social media, we will investigate it further.”

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust charity said: “It is utterly shocking that anyone would make a threat like this against Jewish people, at a time when anti-Jewish hate crime is at record levels. It’s even worse that this comes from a former councillor and academic who ought to know better.”

It comes in the same week that universities in the United States have been embroiled in anti-Semitism rows. The president of the University of Pennsylvania apologised for refusing to renounce calls for a genocide against Jews as hate speech, after she initially failed to do so.

Liz Magill, along with fellow presidents Claudine Gay, of Harvard, and Sally Kornbluth, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were accused of equivocating on the rise of anti-Semitism on American campuses during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.