Video released of NUS VP claiming to have held “secret meetings” to oust Bouattia

Joanna Taylor 11 January 2017

Richard Brooks, the NUS Vice-President accused of working with pro-Israel groups to oust Malia Bouattia as President, has responded to the claims in a lengthy Facebook post in the wake of the news channel Al Jazeera posting a documentary to their YouTube channel about Israeli influence in British politics. 

The 25 minute video is one of four the channel plans to release, and shows undercover reporters speaking to figures within the Labour Party and the NUS, suggesting that they are being indirectly influenced by the Israeli embassy.

In the documentary which uses secretly-filmed footage, Brooks talks of "secret purpose meetings" he has had with the previous chair of Labour Students, Michael Rubin, and the campaign director of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) Russell Langer in order to "get moderate people with good politics […] elected to certain places."

This, he explains, comes in the wake of a recent visit to Israel where he "learned loads", which was organised by UJS. Al Jazeera claims that the UJS receives money from the Israeli embassy.

When asked by the undercover reporter: "How can we get in touch with the people trying to oppose her?", Brooks answers: "You can speak to me because I’m helping organise them.

"Just drop me a line whenever you want to have a conversation or you want to speak with someone in a certain geographical area, I’ll point you at the right people”

On his Facebook account, Richard Brooks posted a statement claiming that it is, however, “not a shock or an exposé” that he and the President do not see eye to eye, or that he “politically [organises] against what I think to be an ineffectual and damaging Presidency”.  In the documentary, Brooks is recorded describing Malia Bouattia as "awful". 

After affirming that he has unapologetically visited Israel, and praising the work of the Jewish Union of Students as “noble and inspirational” he went on to address the release of the video, claiming that he agreed to meet the reporter, who was posing as a student, because he is a “friendly guy who reaches out and talks to many people”. 

“I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, but did I know they were lying and a secret journalist trying to frame me as some part of Israeli government conspiracy? Of course not.

“And what a waste of 20 mins of my life that caused far more trouble and stress and threats of violence than it’s worth. The idea that I am part of some kind of global conspiracy co-ordinating with global governments to ‘overthrow’ NUS’ leaders is as wrong as it is hurtful – I met someone who I thought was a student organiser for coffee."

Brooks claims that he has received “violent threats” in response to the release of the video, the contents of which he says shouldn’t come as a surprise due to his open disagreements with “far left elected leadership of NUS”. 

Brooks concludes his statement by referring to the “toxic level of debate surrounding NUS”, following months of controversy over Bouattia’s avowed anti-Zionism. 

The NUS Women’s Officer, Hareem Ghani defended the President before the release of the video, claiming that Ms Bouattia has been hospitalised five times.

A spokesperson from the NUS also confirmed to The Cambridge Student that they are looking into the allegations made against Mr Brooks and that “appropriate action” will be taken when they “have all the information available”. 

The NUS has been contacted again for comment.