Zac Goldsmith's 'selective amnesia' about his support for Babar Ahmad

Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan clashed last night over their support for Babar Ahmad
Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan clashed last night over their support for Babar Ahmad
Adam Bienkov By

The Conservative campaign against Sadiq Khan has increasingly concentrated on associating him with "extremists" in an attempt to scare voters away from electing him as mayor.

One of the charges made against Khan is that he was a supporter of Babar Ahmad in his campaign against extradition to the US.

Last week, the home secretary Theresa May told the Conservative spring conference that Khan's association with Ahmad, who was subsequently convicted of terrorism-related offences in the US, was a "worry" for somebody who could soon be overseeing the Metropolitan Police.

Speaking at the City AM election hustings last night, Goldsmith added that Khan's support for Ahmad was an "example of concern" raised by the home secretary and said that Khan had "campaigned very actively for him."

There's only one problem with this line of attack: Goldsmith also supported Ahmad in his campaign against extradition.

As Khan said in response last night: "I'm amazed at the selective amnesia of Zac Goldsmith. Zac also campaigned to stop Babar Ahmad being extradited to the United States of America under the UK-US extradition treaty, as did somebody called Boris Johnson."

This is a point that has also been made by Ahmad himself recently, who told the BBC that Goldsmith had given him the "same level of support" as Khan and Boris.

However, last night Goldsmith denied even having heard of Ahmad until recently, telling the audience that:

"I have been a critic of our extradition arrangements. That is correct… But to say that means I campaigned on behalf of Babar Ahmad who I had never heard of until quite recently is an extraordinary thing to say."

So is Goldsmith telling the truth? Had he "never heard" of Ahmad until recently?

Well judge for yourself. Here's Zac speaking at an anti-extradition meeting, in Parliament, way back in 2012.

Goldsmith told the room that Ahmad and others had been "chewed up" by the UK's US extradition treaty.

He then added: "Babar Ahmad is a story that has caught people's imagination. I have been bombarded with letters from my local constituents. I've lost track of how many. I've had so many letters [about Ahmad's case]."

Does that sound to you like a man who has only just heard of Babar Ahmad?

-Update-  A spokesperson for Goldsmith declined to comment further on Goldsmith's claim about only recently hearing about Babar Ahmad. However, in a statement they added: "There are a million miles between Zac’s comments on extradition, and cases involving his constituents, and Khan’s repeated attempts to demonstrate that Ahmad was innocent."


Load in comments
Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.