Labour denies claims senior figures interfered with anti-Semitism complaints

11 July, 2019, 12:36 | Author: Wade Massey
  • UK's Labour Party spars with BBC over charges of anti-Semitism

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn's office interfered in independent party discipline processes aimed at rooting out anti-Semitism, the BBC said on Wednesday, a claim that the Labour Party sharply rejected.

He alleged people she had brought in since her appointment "overruled us and downgraded what should've been a suspension to just an investigation or worse to just a reminder of conduct, effectively a slap on the wrist". In one case, where an ex-staffer, Michael Creighton, said he had been laughed at by communications director Seamus Milne, a spokesman said: "The Labour Party dispute this conversation ever took place... this allegation is false and malicious".

The whistle-blowers said that anti-Semitism complaints surged after the far-left Corbyn was elected party leader in 2015, and that his top aides have directly intervened in investigation and disciplinary proceedings.

But the Labour Party hit back, denied the claims and complained to the BBC.

"Something's going wrong and we're muddling up political disputes with racism", he reportedly wrote.

In response to the claims about Mr Milne, a Labour Party spokesperson said: "This allegation is false and malicious, and our response has been misrepresented by Panorama, throwing into doubt the extent and seriousness of their engagement with the Labour party's responses".

The party added that they had filed a complaint with the BBC's director general Lord Hall over the documentary.

The BBC dismissed the complaints, stating that Labour was criticizing "a program they have not seen" and maintaining that it "adheres to the BBC's editorial guidelines".

A Labour spokesman accused the broadcaster of "pre-determining" the outcome of its investigation.

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Deputy leader Tom Watson said the revelations in the BBC's Panorama programme on anti-Semitism in his party were "harrowing". Many of those interviewed by Ware "have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, worked to actively undermine it, and have both personal and political axes to grind", the Party stated, questioning their credibility as sources in such an investigation.

Matthews' predecessor, Mike Creighton, recalled on the show that Milne approached him in the Spring of 2016 to ask his advice about dealing with the growing number of anti-Semitism complaints.

On Tuesday, three Labour peers resigned over the party's handling of antisemitism complaints, with the former general secretary David Triesman arguing that the party was "plainly institutionally antisemitic".

The Party slammed the BBC's choice of producer, John Ware, as "unsuitable", noting that Ware's "record of public political hostility to Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership of the Labour Party, as well as a series of controversial articles and programs on the Muslim community, means he can not be regarded as fair or even-handed on British politics".

Starmer said the party had to take "decisive action", adding: "Firstly, I would support a rule change that says you expel in clear cases of antisemitism automatically, just as we do for people who support another political party an election", he said. We stand in solidarity with Jewish people, and we're taking decisive action to root out antisemitism from our movement and society.

The shocking evidence on show in the Panorama programme is a public service, nothing less. It was an overtly biased intervention by the BBC in party political controversy. "Very serious questions now have to be answered". "And since Jennie Formby became general secretary, the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased four-fold".

"The charade of Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-racist activist has been blown apart. This in no way contradicts the separation of functions within the organisation and it does not contradict the party's position that the complaints process operate independently of the leader's office".

In one of those cases, Labour claims the program deceptively edited the content of an email sent by Milne to change the meaning.

"We will build on the improvements to our procedures made under Jennie Formby, and continue to act against this repugnant form of racism".

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