General secretary Jennie Formby has accused deputy leader Tom Watson of “publicly attacking” her while she undergoes cancer treatment as the antisemitism row deepens.
Watson wrote to her calling for the party to publish its submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over antisemitism claims, as well as raising allegations she had deleted emails relating to cases, a suggestion Formby denies.
In her reply, she said she was “very disappointed” in his approach and accused him of abusing his position. “The party has at all levels consistently shown that it recognises the vital importance of combating antisemitism, yet you consistently abuse your considerable platform to denigrate any progress that has been made and any individual that is involved in that,” she said.
Formby, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, added: “Traducing my reputation and publicly attacking me when you know I am undergoing chemotherapy and am unable to respond in the media is another example of the inappropriate way in which you choose to discuss this issue.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell criticised the manner and timing of Watson’s letter, saying it “goes beyond my understanding” that it was sent “when he knows she’s undergoing chemotherapy”.
“I just don’t understand why the deputy leader of the Labour Party uses the media to demand information from Labour’s General Secretary @JennieGenSec, which has already been offered to him,” McDonnell tweeted.