Labour ‘failed to take action against antisemites’, leaked documents reveal

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Labour ‘failed to take action against antisemites’, leaked documents reveal

Around half of more than 860 cases not resolved, and leader's office continues to claim it does not interfere in disciplinary procedures

Joe Millis is a journalist

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Leaked internal Labour documents have revealed that the party failed to take any disciplinary action against hundreds of members accused of antisemitism.

The files, leaked to the Sunday Times, show that members investigated for posting such online comments as “Heil Hitler”, “F*** the Jews” and “Jews are the problem” have not been expelled, even though the party received the complaints a year ago.

In response to the allegations made, the JLC’s chairman Jonathan Goldstein said “these emails lay bare the extent of the corruption and those who have covered it up must be held to account without delay and relieved of their duties.” Meanwhile, Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl described the saga as “a total sham”.

Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman said: “This is further, shocking evidence of the claims we have been making that the Leader’s office interferes with the complaints process.

“I am calling for an independent process where there cannot be interference.”

Among the leaked emails, it was detailed how a Lancashire councillor, who attacked what she termed the “Jewish” media and the Rothschilds, was allowed back into the party after telling the party that she meant “Jewish” as a “blanket term of description without any racist connotations”.

The files reveal that Thomas Gardiner, a Corbyn ally and the powerful chief of Labour’s governance and legal unit, last month frustrated efforts by a member of his staff to fast-track the investigation of a member who condemned two Jewish MPs for being “shit-stirring c** buckets” in the pay of Israel”.

In another case, an MP reported a member for saying the Board of Deputies were “c****” and that saying so was “not anti-semitic, it’s anti-c***. See Israel.” The member was let off with a warning.

Responding, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said: “This makes for deeply shocking and depressing reading. Labour members and the Jewish community will not understand how, many years on from the first concerns about anti-semitism being raised, we have not got to grips with it.”

Of 863 complaints overall, 454 (53 percent) are unresolved, including 249 where the party has not started an investigation. There are 176 ongoing probes. Just 29 cases have been referred to the body authorised to expel individuals.

The Sunday Times also revealed details of the secretly recorded meeting in which Corbyn and his political secretary, Amy Jackson, assured Dame Margaret Hodge MP that his team would “never” interfere in complaints. At the height of Labour’s anti-semitism crisis, in January, Corbyn told the MP: “It doesn’t come here… I don’t involve myself in the complaint at all.”

Jackson said: “Absolutely not. I could tell you 100% we would never do that, that would be an appalling thing to do.”

However, the claims he made during the meeting are apparently undermined by emails in which the leader’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, says Jackson herself must be kept abreast of certain complaints.

In a 5 April email, Murphy wrote: “I think it’s important for Amy Jackson to have an overview of all complaints that involve elected politicians or candidates.”

A Labour spokesperson told The Sunday Times: “These figures are not accurate,” adding: “Lines have been selectively leaked from emails to misrepresent their overall contents.

“Former staffers asked the Leader’s Office for their help with clearing the backlog of cases. This lasted for a few weeks while there was no general secretary, and was ended by Jennie Formby [now in that role].

“The Labour Party takes complaints of anti-semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to rooting it out. All complaints are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures. We can’t comment on individual cases.”

Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council responded to claims made in the Sunday Times, saying: “Last July, I called the Labour Party institutionally racist against Jews. Today’s revelations in the Sunday Times make clear for all to see just how accurate that statement was. It was simply impossible for Labour Party members to ignore the degree to which racism has infected Labour.”

“These emails lay bare the extent of the corruption and those who have covered it up must be held to account without delay and relieved of their duties. Labour members, MPs and the shadow cabinet should be ashamed of the conduct of their leadership and demand immediate action. Enough is Enough.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said the revelations “shows that our demands to root out anti-Jewish racism have been treated with utter contempt.  Rather than own up to the problem, the Labour leadership has put its efforts into a cover up operation.

“Any claims to a politically independent system can now be seen as a total sham. “Labour must now urgently open up its processes to scrutiny by the Jewish community.

“We stand united with all decent people in the fight against ugly racism.​”

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