Labour's general secretary accused of 'interference' amid fresh anti-Semitism row

Nellie Chapman
July 11, 2019

He said he was "very concerned" he and other members of the Labour NEC had not been given access to the party's response to an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into how it handles allegations of antisemitism.

Emails from May 2018 show Formby sought to influence the selection of the panel for a disciplinary hearing for a party member accused of making racist comments on social media. This is not the first time Labour have complained about the presenter.

"The charade of Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-racist activist has been blown apart".

"We are absolutely adamantly opposed to anti-Semitism in all its forms and we will continue to take the strongest action to eradicate it from the Labour Party, and we've taken a series of steps". He said that on multiple occasions since Formby's appointment in March 2018, her staffers have "overruled us and downgraded what should've been a suspension to just an investigation, or worse, to just a reminder of conduct, effectively a slap on the wrist".

Iain McNicol also spoke out against the party on the programme.

Jennie Formby at the 2016 Labour Party conference.

One former official says the suggestion Corbyn make a speech about Israel's right to exist was met with laughter.

Labour said this misrepresented Milne's email, which referred to a dispute between Jewish Labour members with Zionist and anti-Zionist views. "That is the wrong approach, we have got to be very, very open".

But, in response to a request, Milne was specifically talking about Jewish people being accused of antisemitism.

Labour has insisted the claims made in Wednesday's Panorama were inaccurate and the party is free of any and all allegations Jewish members are discriminated against and complaints are hushed up or ignored.

Meanwhile, Sam Matthews, Labour's former head of complaints, said he had been pushed to the brink of suicide by the issues in the party.

A Labour spokesman accused the broadcaster of "pre-determining" the outcome of its investigation.

The spokesman said: "The Panorama programme and the BBC have engaged in deliberate and malicious representations created to mislead the public".

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The spokesman said: "We stand in solidarity with Jewish people, and we're taking decisive action to root out anti-Semitism from our movement and society".

"This throws into doubt their credibility as sources".

A group of eight former Labour officials have come forward to accuse party chief Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aides of systemically interfering in efforts to address anti-Semitism within the British party.

"In line with those, the Labour Party has been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations".

"I thought he actually wanted to know how we tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour Party", Creighton said.

And shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, speaking to Sky News before the Panorama programme was broadcast, refused to endorse the party's claim that the broadcast was a "political intervention" by the BBC.

"The emails... are simply about ensuring the NCC is held accountable for the length of time they take to hear cases and about protecting the party against any successful legal challenge on the basis of perceived bias if the same panel is used in high profile cases".

"No proper and serious attempt was made to understand our current procedures for dealing with antisemitism, which is clearly essential to reach a fair and balanced judgement".

Imagine if they employed some of the most expensive lawyers in Britain to tackle the people responsible for racism and not the people exposing it. We will be pursuing complaints at every level.

The party is now being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission after a number of complaints about anti-Semitism.

"Labour stands in solidarity with Jewish people and is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations".

"Labour is taking decisive action against anti-Semitism, doubling the number of staff dedicated to dealing with complaints and cases".

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