Suspended Baroness Tonge quits Lib Dems after chairing 'anti-Israel' meeting

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A peer has resigned from the Liberal Democrats after chairing a meeting at which Israel was compared to terror group Islamic State and Jews were blamed for the Holocaust.

Baroness Tonge told the Press Association she resigned from the party "about the same time" as she was suspended by its leader.

The peer is a former MP for Richmond Park, which the Liberal Democrats hope to win back from Zac Goldsmith who has triggered a by-election in the constituency over his opposition to Heathrow.

Baroness Tonge sat as an independent peer but was still a member of the Lib Dems until Thursday afternoon, when she was suspended and quit.

The remarks were made by a speaker at an event at the House of Lords run by the Palestinian Return Centre, which live-streamed it on its Facebook page.

Baroness Tonge was accused of "baiting Jews" by the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the remarks prompted one MP to call for Britain to apologise to Israel.

But speaking to the Press Association, Baroness Tonge defended her actions and insisted she did not hear the full "rant".

She said: "I was chairing, I did not make any speeches, I introduced the speakers and in the course of that meeting there was a great rant.

"I remember the rant very well but I don't remember hearing very much of it. It was a rant. I didn't know what this person said.

"You do get ranters at these meetings and I think the best way of dealing with them - if you challenge them they go on and on and on and on - the best way is to just say 'yes, thank you very much, next speaker'."