Labour anti-Semitism inquiry chair Shami Chakrabarti has defended under-fire Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of fierce criticism over the leader’s “clumsy” phrasing of remarks about Israel and response to an activist’s harassment of a Jewish MP.
Blaming media spin for the ongoing controversy, the human rights campaigner told an interviewer that Corbyn had “no editorial control” over her report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which declined to recommend lifetime bans for members found guilty of abuse.
Speaking on LBC Radio, she said: “What was so important was he said: not in my party, not on my watch, not in our name. I hope that will be heard by his critics and his supporters alike.
“I’m sorry that there are a few things that have been spun in the media…have kind of cast a shadow over two months’ really hard, open-hearted work.”
Corbyn has been urged to apologise by Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan after one of his supporters used an “anti-Semitic trope” to abuse Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the report.
Momentum activist Marc Wadsworth said she was working “hand in hand” with the right-wing Daily Telegraph newspaper and Smeeth later left in “floods of tears”.
Corbyn did not respond to the abuse – and has provoked further ire with comments that were construed as comparing Israel to the Islamic State.
Chakrabarti, however, said the embattled opposition leader had been “spun”.
She said: I’ll take my chances in the broadcast media…if things get spun in print, whether in the old-fashioned papers or online. Trust your ears or your eyes…it’s harder to spin in broadcast than it is in words.
“I read the leader’s speech five minutes before we went into the main room…I listened very carefully to what he said.
“He reflected my report.”
She added: “His point was: when you have Jewish neighbours or friends, or Muslim neighbours or friends and something bad happens in the world, don’t ask them to be the first to explain or defend or condemn.