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Secret film prompts calls to probe Israeli influence on UK

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By Alasdair Sandford
Secret film prompts calls to probe Israeli influence on UK

Israel has apologised to the UK after one of its embassy staff in London was secretly filmed apparently suggesting he wanted to bring about the downfall of a British government minister who has been very critical of Israeli policy.

The senior political officer was speaking in a London restaurant to a British civil servant, who is now said to have resigned.

The undercover recordings are part of an investigation by Al Jazeera which it says expose a covert Israeli campaign to influence British policy.

The Israeli official, senior political officer Shai Masot, is heard saying he wanted to “take down” British Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Maria Strizzolo, the civil servant and also an aide to another minister, later replies by hinting that “a little scandal” might see him dismissed.

In 2014 Sir Alan strongly attacked Israel, describing settlements as “an act of theft” and an “ever-deepening stain on the face of the globe”.

He also likened the situation in Hebron in the occupied West Bank to apartheid.

The Israeli official also describes the UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson as “an idiot” in the secret recording.

Sir Craig Oliver, former communications director to ex-British Prime Minister David Cameron, said Masot’s comments should be viewed as comic rather than chilling.

But Britain’s Labour opposition has demanded an inquiry into the extent of alleged Israeli interference in UK politics.

Israel says the official’s views are not those of its government.