The vice-chairman of Labour’s inquiry into anti-Semitism has said the timing of a peerage to Shami Chakrabarti has damaged the credibility of the report she produced.
Professor David Feldman made the comments after community leaders condemned the timing of the former Liberty chief’s elevation to the House of Lords only weeks after she produced a report on anti-Semitism – with the Chief Rabbi saying it left the report’s credibility “in tatters” despite her years of distinguished public service.
Feldman, who is also the director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, told an audience at Liverpool Limmud that he only knew about the peerage when the rest of the country found out.
Asked about whether its timing had damaged the report, he said: “Clearly the response to the peerage has been damaging… It has damaged the credibility of the report among large sections of the public, not only among Jews (but) among non-Jews as well.”
But he nevertheless stressed that the report, while not exhaustive, was an honest and constructive response to its terms of reference.
Jeremy Corbyn has stressed the offer of a peerage was only made after completion of her report.
Commissioned by Corbyn after a series of suspensions of party members including MP Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, the report concluded Labour was not overrun by anti-Semitism but there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”. It also demanded an end to Nazi analogies with Israel and use of the term ‘Zio’. But critics claimed it should have offered a definition or explanation about how to spot contemporary anti-Semitism, with some claiming it was a “whitewash”.
While the Home Affairs Select Committee said the timing and Chakrabarti’s subsequent appointment to the shadow cabinet threw into question her claims the inquiry was “truly independent”, she insisted the report was not “transactional”.