Pro-Palestinian MP’s supporter faces UK terrorism charges

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A supporter of the new independent MP for Leicester South was charged on Wednesday with terrorism offences, less than a week after Shockat Adam’s surprise defeat of Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth in a campaign focused heavily on the conflict in Gaza.

Leicestershire Police said 36-year-old Majid Novsarka — also known as Majid Freeman — had been charged with encouragement of terrorism and supporting a proscribed organisation. He was released on bail.

The police have not said which alleged conduct by Freeman formed the basis of the criminal charges.

Freeman was part of the campaign by Adam to unseat Ashworth, who had been Labour’s shadow paymaster general and had been expected to receive a senior job in Sir Keir Starmer’s new government.

Adam was one of four independent candidates who won seats in last Thursday’s general election after campaigning on the Gaza conflict in areas with a significant number of Muslim voters.

Former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has criticised Labour’s response to the conflict, also won his seat of Islington North, after being ejected from the party and running as an independent.

In Leicester South, Adam took 14,739 votes to Ashworth’s 13,760, in a seat where Labour had previously enjoyed a solid majority.

Jonathan Ashworth and Shockat Adam
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, left, and Shockat Adam, the new independent MP for Leicester South

Several other prominent Labour MPs — including health secretary Wes Streeting, Home Office minister Jess Phillips and justice secretary Shabana Mahmood — came close to being defeated in the election by independent or Workers party candidates.

Ashworth said Adam had “serious questions to answer” about his association with Freeman.

“Decent minded people across Leicester will expect their new MP to publicly and without equivocation provide a full account of all his dealings with this individual in the campaign,” Ashworth said.

A video on X — that was reposted by Adam on June 22 — showed Freeman repeatedly questioned Ashworth on the street about why he abstained in a parliamentary vote over a ceasefire in Gaza earlier in the year.

Adam wrote above the video, in a reference to the ceasefire vote, that Ashworth was “ashamed” of Labour’s “pro-genocide position”.

“If you don’t want to be asked questions by the public when you are canvassing on our streets then maybe you should just stay at home,” he wrote.

Starmer, who is now prime minister, had been criticised by some traditional Labour supporters for only gradually shifting the party’s position towards supporting a ceasefire in Gaza.

An X account in Freeman’s name expressed support for other pro-Palestine candidates, including Akhmed Yakoob’s unsuccessful independent campaign to remove Mahmood in Birmingham Ladywood, and Jody McIntyre’s unsuccessful campaign on a Workers party ticket to unseat Phillips in Birmingham Yardley.

Issues around religious and ethnic identity are particularly sensitive in Leicester after serious violence broke out in August and September 2022 between young Muslim and Hindu men in the city.

Freeman did not respond immediately to a direct message on X asking for comment on the charges.

Adam did not respond immediately to an email to his parliamentary address asking for a comment on Ashworth’s demand.

The police said Freeman would appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 24.

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