UK lawmaker hits back at criticism after supporting call for Shireen Abu Akleh investigation

UK lawmaker hits back at criticism after supporting call for Shireen Abu Akleh investigation
2 min read
04 May, 2023
Labour MP Kim Leadbeater said an independent investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh's killing was 'long overdue'.
Kim Leadbeater (left) is the Labour MP for the Batley and Spen constituency in the UK [OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty-archive]

A British lawmaker has hit back at criticism after she supported a call on Tuesday for an independent investigation into Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's killing almost a year ago.

Celebrated Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh was shot dead on 11 May 2022 as she covered a raid by Israel on the occupied West Bank's Jenin refugee camp.

It is widely acknowledged that Israeli forces killed her, with even the country's own army saying in September this was "highly probable". The military maintained the incident was a mistake, but Al Jazeera and others have found that it was deliberate.

Kim Leadbeater, Labour MP for the Batley and Spen constituency, put a question about her death to Conservative Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in the UK's parliament.

"It's almost a year since the killing of the Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the Jenin refugee camp," Leadbeater said.

"Will the foreign secretary join me in supporting her brother Anton's call for a thorough, independent investigation into her death and agree with me that this is now long overdue?"

Cleverly responded: "We always call for the swift and transparent investigation into any fatalities and that's very much at the heart of our policy."

He added that he would get more details on the case, with which he had been familiar with at the time, and ensure he is back up to speed.

Leadbeater posted video of the exchange online, tweeting that she met Abu Akleh's brother Anton on a visit to Palestine this year and that "this family deserves justice".

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She faced heavy criticism in response, including accusations of prioritising Palestine over her constituents. One user asked if she was being paid by Gaza rulers Hamas.

"Twitter really is toxic. The amount of disgusting comments I have had for raising the killing of an innocent woman really is astounding," Leadbeater tweeted on Wednesday.

"For anyone who is genuinely interested in my vast amount of constituency work please take a look at my Facebook page," she added, including a link to her profile on the site.