NUS Vice-President implicated in alleged plot to oust President

Khushali Dodhia 10 January 2017

A senior officer from the National Union of Students has been implicated in a plot to oust the president Malia Bouattia, along with the Israeli embassy, claims the Middle East Eye.

NUS Vice-President Richard Brooks, who was secretly filmed by an undercover Al-Jazeera reporter, asserts that he was a key individual in attempts to remove Bouattia, the article alleges. The video is not available publicly. 

The journalist, known only as Robin, apparently told Brooks that he was a political activist with links to the Israeli diplomat Shai Masot.

Robin is said to respond: “So how can we get in touch with the people who are trying to oppose her?”

Brooks is then said to have replied: “drop me a line whenever you want to have a conversation” if he wants to talk to others opposed to Bouattia. “If you want to speak with someone in a certain geographical area, I’ll point you at the right people.”

The video also supposedly records Brooks telling Robin that he visited Israel on a trip funded by the Union of Jewish Students.

Since the article was published in the Middle Eastern Eye, NUS Women's Officer Hareem Ghani tweeted: "Just going to say it as it is,  I've never been so disappointed work for this organisation [sic]. Solidarity to @MaliaBouattia." Ms Ghani also alleges that the NUS President has been in hospital five times his year, and has dealt with "endless amounts of racism, xenophobia and sexism". 

Cambridge NUS delegate Joshua Jackson took a different approach, tweeting: “We have actual NUS officials working with the Israeli embassy to oust and organise against the NUS President – gross”.

The Campaigns Director of the Jewish Union of Students, Josh Nagli, issued a statement on Facebook in which he said there is "no plot and nothing secret about us supporting our students", adding that the "insidious suggestion that Jewish students – or Jews in Britain more broadly – slavishly support specific government policies or actions, conspire with or take direction from Israeli officials, is grossly offensive." 

Nagli also emphasised that their "taking student leaders to Israel and Palestine is not secret", blaming the fact that some participants choose not to share their experiences on the "toxic nature of student politics" surrounding those trying to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

He did, however, retiterate the UJS President's calls on Ms Bouattia to apologise for her previous anti-Semitic remarks, the failure of which would "suggest a need to step down". 

Bouattia, the first black female president of the NUS, has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism by Jewish students, with a cross-party report published by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in October condemning her description of Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” as “outright racism”.

The video was apparently filmed as an investigation into how much influence the Israeli embassy exerts on British politics.

It comes in the wake of Masot’s disgrace earlier this week, when another video filmed by 'Robin' caught him plotting to “take down” MPs regarded as hostile, including Sir Alan Duncan, a Conservative MP and outspoken supporter of a Palestinian state.

An Israeli spokesperson described these remarks as “completely unacceptable”, and the embassy said that Masot “will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly”.

The sting operation also claim that, in the run-up to the 2016 NUS presidential elections, Brooks received funding from the Israeli government.

In response to the claims, an NUS spokesperson said: "NUS takes these allegations seriously. We are looking into them and, when we have all the information available, the behaviour of NUS officers will be reviewed and appropriate action taken."

TCS has contacted Richard Brooks and the Israeli Embassy for comment. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. This article was last updated 11/01/2017 at 12:58