The Labour Party’s independent counsel has vehemently denied a suggestion that he would seek to use his position to influence an antisemitism investigation.
Gordon Nardell QC, who was appointed as the party sought to deal with a backlog of investigations last year, was involved in a dispute on social media with London resident Colin Appleby.
In October, Appleby said he was resigning his Labour membership after claiming that he overheard Labour Party Conference delegates describing Jews as “subhuman,” an allegation subsequently raised in a House of Lords debate following the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.
Appleby’s latest comments prompted a strong response from Nardell this week after discussing a member of Westminster Constituency Labour Party, Elleanne Green.
He described Green as a “self-declared personal friend of @jeremycorbyn, @johnmcdonnellMP and the independent counsel @GordonNardellQC,” adding that she was “subject of many complaints of antisemitism, no action taken”.
Nardell replied to Appleby directly, saying: “Your tweet… contains the obvious implication that I have misused my professional position as counsel to the Labour Party to influence the outcome of complaints against someone claiming to be an acquaintance. That implication is untrue and highly defamatory.”
He added: “The tweet has been ‘liked’ or re-tweeted several times, resulting in re-publication of the libel. Would you please delete the tweet when you receive this message. I would rather not have to pursue this further.”
Nardell then said it was “deeply depressing to see someone with whom I have campaigned spreading this kind of derogatory comment online”.
Appleby said he invited Nardell to sue him, adding that he was being represented by media lawyer Mark Lewis, who was fined £2,500 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in November for hitting back at online antisemitic trolls.
Green was a moderator of the Palestine Live Facebook group, which contained several anti-Semitic messages from members, and tweeted her support for Nardell’s appointment in June, calling him “a non-Zionist Jew” and “a brilliant mind”.
She said she had copied him into her letter to the Labour Party last week, adding that he was “a man I like and trust”.
Green was being investigated for comments in the Facebook group, revealed in research by pro-Israel blogger David Collier. He said she shared articles including one suggesting Israeli intelligence service Mossad was behind the Paris terrorist attacks, another suggesting that Mossad was behind 9/11 and others suggesting the Rothschild family controlled bank bosses.
A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on staffing matters.”