Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle has u-turned on whether Chris Williamson has engaged in antisemitic behaviour during a heated radio interview today.
This comes after Williamson lost the whip on Friday – two days after being readmitted with a formal warning over remarks about the party’s handling of antisemitism.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live today, Russell-Moyle was pressed by presenter Emma Barnett on charges of antisemitism made against Williamson.
The MP for Brighton Kemptown initially declined to state that Williamson engaged in antisemitic behaviour when pressed by Barnett. “I would say that he has behaved foolishly in some of the things that he’s said and whether he is antisemitic or not that is for people who are either Jewish or in the panel to determine,” he said, citing the principles of Macpherson.
????️“Why was that so hard for you to say from the beginning?”
— BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) July 1, 2019
When pressed a second time and presented with examples of past behaviour, he said: “I think some of those tweets that you’ve read out there and some of the things that you’ve said do look like antisemitism to me and I would probably say on the balance of it I would say they look like they are antisemitic.
“Whether that is a threshold that means he is an antisemite himself, that he can’t go through retraining or through a process of reconciliation with the Jewish community that is for the panel to determine, but I would agree with you that they are antisemitic yes.”
When asked why it was “so hard for him to say from the beginning”, Russell Moyle replied: “Well, you reminded me of some of the details.”
This comes after the decision to readmit Williamson into the party caused controversy, with critics pointing to his record on antisemitism, including his backing a petition in support for the musician Gilad Atzmon, who has been accused of Shoah denial, and his campaign for the reinstatement of Labour activist Marc Wadsworth.