Jewish News understands the Labour Party has suspended a county councillor in Durham accused of sharing a post suggesting George Michael’s music career suffered because of his stance on “illegal wars by the Zionists.”
County councillor Lyn Boyd was elected to sit on Durham County Council by 919 votes in 2017 and is the local authority’s cabinet support member for finance.
The county councillor was reported to the Labour Party on 2 February over a trove of material allegedly shared on her Facebook timeline. She was accused on Monday of promoting a “wide range of antisemitic tropes and far-fetched theories that you would expect from a far-right activist.”
But when reached for comment, Boyd said: “I can assure you that as an ardent anti racist I would never post anything that was antisemitic on Facebook. Therefore I have no idea where these vile slurs have originated.”
Describing the allegation as “vile”, she said that while she would not be seeking re-election in 2021, she will “continue to campaign against any form of racism or antisemitic behaviour.”
She later added she didn’t “know” whether she was the holder of the Facebook account behind the posts. “I have challenged and got rid of people who I considered to be anti semiotic, [sic] think the claims are vile because of my lifelong abhorrence of anti racism and any form of anti semitism,” she said.
Among the social media posts discovered was a shared Facebook post about George Michael. It states: “If you ever wondered why you heard little from George in later years, it was because he opposed illegal wars by the Zionists, eg, Iraq, Palestine, etc.”
The pop star known for hits such as Last Christmas and Careless Whisper found fame in the 1980s with his band Wham! and later became one of Britain’s most successful solo singers. He died of heart and liver disease at 53 in his Oxfordshire home in December 2016.
The Facebook post dates back to 2016, shortly after the singer’s death. It goes on to describe the former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair as a “the perfect Zionist puppet”.
Other material found appeared to dismiss allegations of antisemitism that have engulfed the Labour Party in recent years.
A post shared last month contains a link to an article describing allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party as “complete rubbish and designed with one aim only. Ruining Corbyn and the party.”
A post from 2016 denounces the “current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.”
Another post shared the same year contains a link to a video of a German Shepherd mauling a child, with the caption: “This is how the Israeli Zionist attack Palestinian children. You won’t see this in the mainstream media as they control most of it. Please watch and share.”
Stephane Savary, a national vice chair for the affiliate body the Jewish Labour Movement, has called for Boyd’s suspension from the party and says she is “unfit to hold any public office.”
Speaking to Jewish News on Monday, the campaigner accused Boyd of employing “a wide range of antisemitic tropes and far-fetched theories that you would expect from a far-right activist but not from a labour councillor.”
“Is anti-Jewish racism not important for Durham county council? I can’t and will never understand how labour councillor can accept this. Councillor Boyd should be suspended from the party and the local party should ask for her immediate resignation as a councillor,” he said.
A Labour Party spokesperson said it “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 investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken. We can’t comment on individual cases.”