Labour’s relationship with the Jewish community is in “real crisis”, a former shadow cabinet minister has warned, following further allegations about the timing of the peerage given to former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.
Former shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the questions about the timing of the honour for Baroness Chakrabarti, who led an inquiry into anti-Semitism within Labour, would add to “distrust” between Jews and the party.
The Daily Telegraph said Jeremy Corbyn discussed giving Lady Chakrabarti a peerage with his team in March amid claims that sources suggested she was aware her name was listed before agreeing to conduct the anti-Semitism inquiry.
A spokesman for Mr Corbyn rejected the allegation, insisting that the offer of a peerage was made only after the publication of her report.
The newspaper reported that Lady Chakrabarti’s name was added to a longlist of potential new peers before she was approached to conduct the investigation into anti-Semitism.
It said sources had suggested that the peer was told this prior to the announcement on April 29 that she would chair the independent inquiry.
Lady Chakrabarti, now the shadow attorney general, denies being made aware that her name was on a longlist before she was officially approached by Mr Corbyn in July and offered the peerage in David Cameron’s resignation honours.
A spokesman for the Labour leader told the newspaper: “The offer of a peerage was only made to Shami after her report was published as part of Cameron’s resignation honours.”
Mr Hunt said that Lady Chakrabarti’s report, which was published on June 30, was a “missed opportunity” to deal with the issue of anti-Semitism.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “I don’t know the timeline on this but what I do know is that the Labour Party’s relationship with the Jewish community is in real crisis and any hint of some kind of transactional deal with Shami and the leader’s office will only (cause) further distrust.
“I can’t tell you how pained so many Labour MPs and Labour members are at the virus of anti-Semitism which seems to be infecting the party and Shami had a real opportunity to deal with it and confront it and address it and that was a missed opportunity and we’re still reaping the consequences of it.”
He added: “We have a great history with the Jewish community in the UK and that is being put at risk.”
Mr Corbyn has described anti-Semitism as “evil” and insisted Labour has taken “greater action” on the issue than any other party.
An inquiry by the cross-party Home Affairs Select committee earlier this month said the Chakrabarti report was “clearly lacking in many areas” and raised questions about the timing of her elevation to the Lords.
The MPs said Lady Chakrabarti had not been “sufficiently open” about when she was offered the peerage and did not foresee that the timing of her elevation to the Lords alongside a report “absolving” Mr Corbyn of responsibility for anti-Semitism “would completely undermine her efforts to address the issue”.
“It is equally concerning that Mr Corbyn did not consider the damaging impression likely to be created by this sequence of events,” the MPs said.
In his response to the committee Mr Corbyn said Lady Chakrabarti was appointed to the Lords only after she had completed her “unprecedented” report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.