Zac Goldsmith: Headline and image in MoS article a ‘mistake’
Zac Goldsmith today said it was a mistake for the Mail on Sunday to illustrate an article he wrote for the paper with an image of the bus blown up on 7/7.
The Tory candidate for City Hall received widespread criticism for the piece, which was titled: "On Thursday, are we really going to hand the world's greatest city to a Labour party that thinks terrorists is its friends?".
The article repeats his accusation that his Labour rival for mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has given succour to Islamist extremists.
It was accompanied by an image of the London bus blown up in Tavistock Square in the 2005 attacks.
Mr Goldsmith, who had no editorial input into the images and headlines that accompanied the opinion piece, conceded the Mail on Sunday had made an error in judgement.
It came after Kingston mosque in his constituency hit out at Mr Goldsmith’s “troubling campaign” and its accusations against his Labour counterpart.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Goldsmith said: “It’s a mosque I’m very close to and I spoke to members of the mosque yesterday and they’ve made it very clear that they’re reacting to the image used in the Mail on Sunday article, which they believe crossed a line.
“As I said to you earlier in this programme, as a writer you don’t choose the picture, you don’t choose the headline.”
He added: “I think it was a mistake, of course it’s not something I would have done…
“But read the article, the article I stand by every single word of it and I would repeat it again.”
Mr Goldsmith has come under fire for his campaign tactics and personal attacks on Mr Khan.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna accused the Tory candidate of succumbing to “dog whistle racism”, while party leader Jeremy Corbyn added his voice to the criticism.
“I am surprised and disappointed. Zac Goldsmith is somebody I always assumed was a sort of liberal Tory, good on the environment and everything,” Mr Corbyn said.
“He’s run a depressingly negative, nasty campaign, personally vilifying Sadiq Khan. It’s no way to conduct politics. He is diminished in my view.”
But Mr Goldsmith insisted it is perfectly legitimate to question Mr Khan’s judgement after the former human rights lawyer shared platforms with alleged extremists.
Addressing Mr Umunna’s claim of racism, Mr Goldsmith said: “He is completely wrong. This is an attempt by Labour to close down legitimate questions.
“I think his question should be directed at his own candidate, why does he believe it’s okay to give platforms and oxygen and legitimacy to people who are on the wrong side of the debate. Those questions have not been answered and they should be.”
Londoners will elect their next mayor on Thursday this week.