Former Home Secretary Reid, now Baron Reid of Cardowen, spent cosy weekend with genocidal Serbian – and failed to disclose who paid for it
John Reid, now Baron Reid of Cardowen, who held an array of Cabinet positions under Tony Blair and resigned when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, is one of the Blairite peers who today took out a full-page ad at a cost of £18,000 to attack Jeremy Corbyn.
The move was timed perfectly to feed easy lines to Theresa May in her last Prime Minister’s Questions – even though she failed to land a blow – and to attempt to shore up the credibility of the BBC’s derided Panorama hatchet-job last week.
But Reid’s own history presents problems.
In the early 1990s, with the Bosnian war raging, Reid struck up a friendship with Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Radovan Karadžić. Karadžić was convicted in the Bosnian Serb nationalist later convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the mid-1990s.
Cambridge academic Brendan Simms, who wrote a book about the Bosnian horror, said of Reid:
He used to talk to Karadzic, he admired Karadzic.
To compound his poor judgment, Reid did not declare that the trip had been paid for by a lobbyist.
The Corbyn contrast
Unlike John Reid, Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to the horrific behaviour of Radovan Karadžić is well attested in the public record. In 1992, a small group of MPs signed a parliamentary motion condemning the BBC for its lionising of the Serbian militarist.
The horrific conduct of Bosnian Serb forces in Bosnia was already well known a year before Reid was sipping drinks with the warlord in Geneva.
The wording of the motion read:
That this House reacts with disbelief and dismay to the absurdly sympathetic description of the Bosnian Serb warlord, Radovan Karadzic as a ‘poet’ in the Radio Times of 1st December advertising a programme in the BBC2 Bookmark series to be called Serbian Epics, together with the accompanying description of Serbian forces as fighting ‘to regain the land and glory of their medieval empire’; notes that the recent European summit in Edinburgh roundly condemned the savage campaign of military aggression, ethnic cleansing, and persecution and torture of civilians taking place in Bosnia and placed the primary responsibility for the conflict with the leadership of Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs; and believes that the BBC and the editors of the Radio Times have behaved with appalling insensitivity in describing the programme in this way.
Jeremy Corbyn was among the MPs to sign the motion.
Reid was not.
John Reid was contacted for comment. He had not responded by the time of publication.
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