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British pro-Israel lawyer admits staging graffiti attack to frame Palestine solidarity group

Scottish lawyer John Berlow [Twitter]

Date of publication: 8 September, 2020

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Matthew Berlow has confessed to helping fake an anti-Semitic graffiti attack on his own home in order to defame the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
A prominent Glasgow-based lawyer has been ordered to pay £500 in fines after helping fake anti-Semitic vandal attack on his home in order to smear a Scottish Palestinian solidarity group, the Daily Record reported on Monday.

John Berlow, known for his staunch pro-Israel views, has been condemned by legal watchdogs over the scam aiming to defame the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (SPSC).

According to an investigation by the Law Society of Scotland (LSS), Berlow acted alongside a man named Ed Sutherland, who had created a fake Facebook profile under the name Stevie Harrison in order to infiltrate the pressure group last year.

Berlow and Sutherland are both involved in Friends of Israel, which works to promote the country's interests in the UK.

Stevie Harrison - who Sutherland had made into a pro-Palestinian activist - posted on Facebook about the graffiti scrawled on Berlow's Glasgow home.

"A certain Jewish lawyer woke up this morning to find 'Free Palestine' spray-painted rather ­prominently – no idea who was responsible," read the posted, followed by several winking emojis.

Berlow responded to the pose feigning outrage."Idiocy. Typical SPSC behaviour criminal," he wrote.

The solicitor later confessed to the LSS that he knew the attack had been fabricated. However, he said he went along with the conspiracy because the Harrison was useful "to monitor various ­disruptive activities of the SPSC".

The LSS's initial probe concluded that Berlow failed to maintain the standards of behaviour expected for a solicitor.

"The pertinent issue is the solicitor's comment, 'Typical SPSC behaviour' and the association between the SPSC and the supposed act of vandalism in the post. The post was made by the alias Stevie Harrison," the society said.

The probe confirmed that Harrison was a fake persona created by Sutherland in order to impersonate an "anti-Israeli activist".

Berlow claimed on Sunday the plot had been a sting in order to catch someone who had ben stalking him.

"Unfortunately I made it too real and named an organisation I shouldn't have. It wasn't my intention to blame the SPSC for a fictitious event," said Berlow.

However, SPSC member have demanded Berlow pay compensation to those smeared in the bogus attack.

Mick Napier, the chair of SPSC's Glasgow branch, told the Daily Record: "We welcome the finding against Berlow but the gravity of the offence clearly merits more than a £500 rap on the knuckles."

"I believe those who have been defamed, including myself, should be awarded exemplary damages. We have been smeared as anti-Semitic and that is serious and quite unacceptable," he added.

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