Jeremy Corbyn has insisted that Labour does not tolerate anti-Semitism “in any form whatsoever”.
And he said he had no “direct control” over disciplinary procedures being brought against prominent Jewish MP Margaret Hodge after she allegedly accused him of racism.
The Labour leader was speaking as he came under increased pressure from his own MPs to include an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism in full within the party’s new code of conduct.
The Parliamentary Labour Party agreed on Monday to stage a vote in September on whether to demand the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition, including its examples of behaviour deemed to be prejudicial.
Mr Corbyn and other members of his senior team did not attend Monday night’s meeting, the last before Parliament rises for the summer recess.
Labour’s new code of conduct on anti-Semitism reproduces much of the IHRA definition word for word, but its list of potentially prejudicial behaviour omits four examples covered by the international body, mostly relating to criticisms of the state of Israel.
The omission sparked anger among Jewish organisations and some Labour MPs, but the party insisted that the same points were covered elsewhere in the document.
Challenged on the issue following a speech in Birmingham, Mr Corbyn said: “Anti-Semitism is simply wrong in any circumstances whatsoever – it’s not tolerated in any form whatsoever in my party and should not be tolerated in any form whatsoever within our society.
“We have adopted the definition by the IHRA and we’ve adopted most of the examples and put forward a very comprehensive and full code of conduct within the party, which has been approved by our National Executive.
“We are continuing to consult and discuss with the Jewish community and Jewish organisations to ensure it operates in the best way possible.”
Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, has told Dame Margaret she faces investigation for “abusive conduct” in relation to an incident in a Commons corridor in which she allegedly called Mr Corbyn “an anti-Semite and a racist”.
The long-serving Barking MP, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, was also warned that “any further behaviour of a similar nature” could result in disciplinary action.
Asked whether he had personally complained about Dame Margaret’s behaviour, Mr Corbyn said: “I do not have any direct control over what happens with disciplinary processes within the party – although I am obviously a member of the National Executive.
“I think it’s right that any complaints are dealt with independently of me and that the party process has to take place on that.”
He added: “I think within the party and in public life people should always treat each other with respect, listen to what people say and express their point of view in a calm way.”
Lawyers for Dame Margaret questioned the “fairness and legitimacy” of a disciplinary investigation and said the party had failed to set out what she is accused of.
In a letter to Ms Formby, solicitors Mishcon de Reya said that a threat of suspension over unspecified future behaviour represented “a fundamental breach of natural justice” and appeared to be “a veiled attempt to silence her”.
The law firm said it was “perverse” that the same rule used to deal with anti-Semitism in the party is now being invoked against Dame Margaret “for voicing her concern that anti-Semitism has not been properly dealt with”.
And it added the result of the disciplinary action against the MP “appears to be pre-