Corbyn expressed concern Labour ‘mislaid or ignored’ antisemitism evidence

Corbyn expressed concern Labour ‘mislaid or ignored’ antisemitism evidence

Party leader made comments during secretly recorded meeting with Dame Margaret Hodge according to new revelations made in the Sunday Times

Jeremy Corbyn  (Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire)
Jeremy Corbyn (Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

Jeremy Corbyn privately expressed concern that evidence of antisemitism in Labour has been “mislaid or ignored”, according to reports.

The Labour leader made the comments during a secretly recorded meeting with MP Dame Margaret Hodge, the Sunday Times said.

Mr Corbyn was speaking in February as he outlined his intention to appoint former Cabinet minister Lord Falconer to review the party’s complaints process, the newspaper said.

The newspaper quoted Mr Corbyn saying: “The point of him (Falconer) is that he will look at the speed of dealing with cases, the administration of them, and the collation of the evidence before it is put before appropriate panels and things.

“Because I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used and that there had to be some better system.”

The Labour leader also said he had been the target of abuse, according to the newspaper.

It reported Mr Corbyn as saying: “You see, I get a huge amount of abusive stuff, mostly, some of it’s quite threatening, you know, murder and stuff.”

A Labour spokesman said the party takes allegations of antisemitism seriously.

He said: “This shows Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to make procedures as robust and efficient as possible and to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.

“We don’t comment on staffing matters. Complaints are being handled in the usual way.

“The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.

“All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Referring to the recording, a Labour Party source said: “Before Jennie Formby became general secretary, we were alarmed that at times it seemed that former compliance unit staffers were targeting Jewish activists not in breach of rules, while obstructing action on clear-cut cases of antisemitism.”

It was also claimed that a junior staff member suspected of blowing the whistle on the party’s handling of antisemitism was suspended – but the Sunday Times insisted it was not the same person who passed the paper a database showing hundreds of cases had yet to be resolved.

But a Labour source said: “This individual may have committed criminal offences, which the party takes extremely seriously.” Following claims the suspension meant there were now no permanent staff  members in the unit dealing with racism complaints, the source added: “There are many staff in the Governance and Legal unit, which handles complaints and disciplinary cases, and more staff are being recruited.”

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, wrote on Twitter: “It doesn’t matter that Jeremy Corbyn acknowledged that there’s a problem with antisemitism , or that he had to apologise for poor handling or that he admits the party ignored. Those of us who said this privately, then publicly,  have been pilloried. And still little has changed.

“If, as the Sunday Times reports, a member of Labour Party staff has been suspended for whiseleblowing over our mishandling of antisemitism cases, it exposes the culture of our party and its leadership: they’re harder on whistleblowers than they are on anti-Semites. Sickening.”

Fellow Labour MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, added: “The hypocrisy of Corbyn defending Assange only to then clamp down on anyone suspected of calling out Labour’s antisemitism crisis is shameful. There has been a total breakdown of trust.

“More than ever we need an independent complaints system to deal with antisemitism and labour’s response to the EHRC inquiry must be made public. Only then will we get full transparency and a complaints process free from political interference.”

In a letter to the paper following last week’s revelations, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl accuseds Labour of having “partisan and corrupt” disciplinary processes.

The letter says: ” One year ago, before our meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council put forward steps that Labour could take to root out anti-Jewish racism. These included an independent ombudsman to oversee the disciplinary process, which appeared to us from the outside to be partisan and corrupt.”

“The leaks so far suggest a culture of amnesty for anti-Jewish bigots. This apparently extends as far as failing to discipline people caught sharing overtly anti-semitic material from far-right websites.”

In any organisation that genuinely did not want to be considered institutionally anti-semitic, these revelations would have prompted investigations, suspensions and sackings. That the modern Labour Party can do no better than shrug and obfuscate further shows what the current leadership have allowed it to become.”

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