The revelation that Labour MP Chris Williamson has been allowed back into the party sparked furore and despair in the Jewish community amid growing antisemitism concerns.
Jewish News understands an NEC antisemitism panel found the controversial MP for Derby North in breach of party rules and issued him with a formal warning after a four-month suspension.
Should he repeat such conduct in future, it is believed Williamson is likely to face further more severe sanctions.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz is believed to have pushed for the rejection of a party recommendation to refer Williamson to the National Constitution Committee, which deals with serious cases.
The decision prompted immediate criticism from the community, with Simon Johnson, from the Jewish Leadership Council, claiming Williamson has shown no remorse and will offend again.
“This decision beggars belief. The lack of transparency and clarity around the process of why Mr Williamson has had his suspension lifted lends credence as to why the EHRC is investigating whether the Labour Party discriminates against Jewish people,” he added.
Meanwhile, Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman described the announcement as an “utter disgrace” and “yet more damning evidence for the EHRC’s inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge added in a statement to JN: “This decision is the complete opposite of a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism. Letting Chris Williamson back into Labour shows the party complaints process is a complete sham.
“Chris has shown a disturbing ‘pattern of behaviour’ when it comes to antisemitism, and yet he has been readmitted simply to garner a vote. The party leadership should all be ashamed of themselves.”
Former Labour MP Ian Austin added: “It is a complete disgrace that Chris Williamson, who has caused huge offence to Jewish people, is let off with just a warning.
“This shows the extent to which a party which had such a proud record of fighting racism has been poisoned under Jeremy Corbyn. The only question is when decent Labour MPs will finally say enough is enough and do something about it.”
The Jewish Labour Movement said the decision “stinks and shows the moral turpitude the party finds itself in”, adding: “How dare the Labour Party deny it is institutionally racist against Jews when it decides to take no action against Chris Williamson?
“It seems the decision to let him off is because he represents a marginal seat and there might be a snap election. It’s good to know that a party of anti-racists, led by an avowed anti-racist decides its OK to ignore anti-Jewish racism if there’s a vote to be won.”
When asked whether the decision to allow Williamson back into Labour would give rise to a new push for disaffiliation, JLM National Chair Mike Katz said the decision would “exacerbate people’s concerns that the party doesn’t give a damn about its Jewish members and the community, or being investigated in an unprecedented way by the equalities watchdog.”
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, tweeted: “I’m afraid all this indicates is that @UKLabour seems to be home to the racists, rather than the anti racist party it professes to be. I say to the good, decent people – when will you speak up and actually *do* something?”
A senior NEC source told Jewish News: “Blaming the leadership for this terribl decision is a total red herring. Party staff recommended that he be referrede to ther NCC, Keith Vaz who is a longterm operator on the Labour right opposed it. The silver lining is that while suspended from the party Chris Williamson couldn’t face a trigger ballot. Now he can and I strongly hope he is deselected.”
Labour opened an investigation into Williamson’s “pattern of behaviour” in February after a video emerged of the MP telling activists Labour had been too apologetic over antisemitism.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are investigated in line with our rules and procedures. We can’t comment on individual cases.”