Norfolk church cancels Chris Williamson speaking event
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Norfolk church cancels Chris Williamson speaking event

Church cancels event over possibility 'it could be detrimental' after community concerns

Chris Williamson outside the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre on Thursday (Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
Chris Williamson outside the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre on Thursday (Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

A church in West Norfolk has cancelled an event where suspended MP Chris Williamson was to discuss “the challenges facing Labour.”

Downham Market Methodist Church cancelled the free event billed for Saturday evening over concerns it “could be detrimental” to the church and community.

The decision follows anger from members of West Norfolk’s Jewish community which drew coverage in the local press.

Reverend Maurice Stafford told Jewish News on Friday that the church was not familiar with the event’s organisers when the booking was made.

He said: “When it became clearer what it was about, I did further consultation and we decided it would have to be cancelled.

“In our standing orders, it says that permission can be withheld if there’s a possibility that it would be detrimental to the life of the church and the life of the commitment.

“Whilst not knowing how the meeting is going to go and what [Williamson] is going to speak about, we think it could be detrimental.”

The minister stressed that the church does “not endorse antisemitism at all, full stop.”

Event organiser Phil Wagstaff defended Williamson this week, claiming he had a long record of fighting racism. “Antisemitism has been blown up completely out of proportion,” he told regional newspaper Lynn News prior to the event cancellation.

Williamson, who denies allegations of antisemitism, was first suspended after claiming Labour had been “too apologetic” on the issue.

The Derby North MP lost his court battle to be reinstated on Thursday afternoon. The High Court ruled that his re-suspension in June was “unlawful” but that subsequent disciplinary action should run its course.

The MP took to Twitter to call for his suspension to be lifted, writing “This is a damning indictment of our party’s internal disciplinary procedures, which require a total overhaul – towards a fairer, more independent and more democratic system.”

Chris Williamson was contacted for comment.

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