Controversy In NUS As Undercover Filming Exposes Plans To “Oust” President
An NUS officer was thrown into controversy Tuesday evening after allegations emerged that he was secretly filmed discussing plans to oust Malia Bouattia as NUS President.
It has been reported that Richard Brooks, Vice President for Union Development, was secretly filmed by an undercover reporter for Al-Jazeera discussing his opposition to NUS President Malia Bouattia.
In the alleged video conversation – which has yet to actually surface – Brooks suggests he is leading a faction against the president. Revealed by a report from the Middle East Eye, Brooks apparently offers to put the journalist in contact with others who oppose Bouattia, saying: “[If] you want to speak with someone in a certain geographical area, I’ll point you at the right people.”
The undercover journalist was posing as Chairman of the Young Labour Friends of Israel, and the Middle East Eye accuses Brooks of colluding with Israel to oust the NUS president, who is democratically elected.
Brooks also allegedly told the undercover journalist that he accepted a trip to Israel, funded by the Union of Jewish Students.
Students and members of NUS have tonight shared their anger at the allegations against Brooks.
Daniel Nasr, SU President at Goldsmiths University, said it was “disgusting”.
Shelly Asquith, Vice President for Welfare at NUS, had this to say.
“Resign” read one tweet from Susuana Amoah, a former Women’s Officer at NUS.
The legitimacy of the undercover video in question is yet to be confirmed, but Brooks’ opposition to Bouattia’s presidency is no secret.
He was one of 9 NUS officers and 43 student leaders who last year signed an open letter claiming Bouattia was “undermining” Jewish students in the UK.
Malia Bouattia, who was elected president in 2016, has been haunted by allegations of anti-Semitism since day one, and opinion amongst those in NUS has been divided.
UPDATE 11th Jan 09:06:
Al-Jazeera have released the undercover filming. You can watch it here.
UPDATE 11th Jan 12:15:
Richard Brooks has responded publicly on Twitter to the allegations.
“It’s no surprise to anybody who knows me, or has heard me speak publicly, that myself and Malia don’t see eye to eye on NUS or the future of the student movement” he wrote. “It’s therefore not a shock nor an exposé that I politically organise against what I think to be an ineffectual and damaging Presidency.”
Brooks says he is proud to work with the Union of Jewish students and that there is “no conspiracy”. He insists the undercover journalist he met with – who was posing as a pro-Israel student – was one of “thousands” of students he meets with to discuss politics. “Hopefully you all know me as a friendly guy who reaches out and talks to many people” he says.
Brooks denies ever meeting – knowingly – with a member of the Israeli government and says accusations of him co-ordinating to overthrow NUS’ leaders is “as wrong as it is hurtful”. He concludes his statement by calling the level of debate in NUS “toxic” and insists he will continue to fight for Students’ Unions in his role as VP for Union Development.