A Labour candidate for the forthcoming European elections has said he “regrets” suggesting antisemitism was being used as a “smear” to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.
Martin Mayer, a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), is reported to be standing in the Yorkshire and the Humber area in May’s poll.
The Sunday Telegraph reported Mr Mayer sent an email in 2016 entitled “How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour party’s antisemitism crisis”, in which he wrote: “Labour’s Blairite Right wing have used the smear of antisemitism to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”
A report of a Labour Against the Witchhunt group from Sheffield last May said Mr Mayer “shared fascinating stories from his time on the Labour Party NEC and the many ‘bogus’ claims of antisemitism he witnessed first hand”.
In a statement, Mr Mayer said antisemitism was a problem within Labour and the party cannot tolerate it.
He said: “When I was on the NEC I was shocked and appalled to see cases of antisemitism within our party.
“I was also concerned about factionalism undermining the integrity of the disciplinary processes and the fight against antisemitism.
“I regret the language I used to express this and I would not use it today. Since then, I have learnt a lot more about this subject and I realise that words like ‘smear’ have the effect of downplaying and dismissing this very serious issue.
“I did not deny the problem exists within our party, and I believe anyone who denies it is contributing to the problem.
“As we’ve seen from the figures that the party recently released, this is a small minority in our party, but they must be kicked out.”