The human rights campaigner charged with leading Labour’s national inquiry into anti-Semitism has suggested she is being smeared for her past praise of a Guantanamo detainee who has criticised Israeli “crimes”.
Shami Chakrabarti hit out after the Mail on Sunday reported her 2007 remarks, in which she called Moazzam Begg “a wonderful advocate” five years before he took to social media saying Israel’s “crimes” far were worse than those of Afghan insurgents.
The Mail said that in 2012 he wrote: “Israel’s crimes far outweigh Taliban’s who are in their own country. Zionist Israelis aren’t.” It also claimed that Begg was linked to Islamic State terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, otherwise known as ‘Jihadi John.’
Chakrabarti, who could enter politics after heading the Labour inquiry, campaigned for Begg’s release from Guantanamo Bay, and heaped praise on him in 2007, when the two shared a platform.
This week she reaffirmed her neutrality and distanced herself from Begg, who won an out-of-court settlement after suing the British government for complicity in torture.
“I have always spoken against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism,” she said. “I long campaigned for the release of Mr Begg and all other detainees from Guantanamo Bay. I have never spoken about Israel-Palestine.”
She added: “These three facts are completely consistent and I am disappointed that anyone should attempt to suggest otherwise.”
However, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: “If this is the conclusion Shami Chakrabarti comes to on Moazzam Begg, I dread to think how she will adjudicate on Labour’s anti-Semitism problem. The inquiry is rapidly losing all credibility.”