UK Politics

Suspended Labour peer Lord Ahmed 'horrified' by bounty claim

Suspended Labour peer Lord Ahmed has told the BBC he is "shocked and horrified" at claims that he called for a £10m bounty for the capture of US Presidents Obama and Bush.

He was reported to have made the remark by a Pakistani newspaper.

But Lord Ahmed told BBC Asian Network the story was "lies" and he had never mentioned a bounty or President Obama.

Labour said it would investigate, but if the comments were true they would "utterly condemn" them.

Lord Ahmed's alleged remarks, published in the Express Tribune newspaper , were said to have been made in response to an announcement from Washington earlier this month of a $10m bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.

The Indian government blames Mr Saeed and his organisation for carrying out several militant attacks on its territory, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

'Illegal wars'

Lord Ahmed, according to the Express Tribune, said: "If the US can announce a reward of $10m for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10m on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush."

But on Monday he told the BBC he was "devastated" by the allegation.

"I'm shocked and horrified that this whole story could be just made up of lies..." he said.

"I never mentioned President Obama, I never mentioned the word bounty.

"It was a discussion about people investing in Pakistan and yes, I did talk about illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Bush and Blair involved in it, but I did not mention any bounty or President Obama, and the sort of rubbish that's been on the media in the last 24 hours."

He added: "I respect Labour Party rules and I will answer all the allegations made to the party leadership."

The peer said he had "video recordings" of his comments and would make them public, if necessary, after first giving them to the Labour Party.

Earlier, he told the Press Association there had been "war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan", and George W Bush and Tony Blair "should be brought to justice" for their involvement in "illegal wars".

Announcing his suspension on Sunday, a Labour Party spokeswoman told the BBC: "If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable.

"The international community is rightly doing all in its power to seek justice for the victims of the Mumbai bombings and halt terrorism."

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