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Chris Williamson: Labour blocks Corbyn loyalist from standing at general election over antisemitism claims

National Executive Committee also refuses to endorse Stephen Hepburn and Roger Godsiff

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 06 November 2019 15:11 GMT
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Williamson was suspended from the party over accusations of antisemitism
Williamson was suspended from the party over accusations of antisemitism (Getty)

Labour has blocked ex-MP Chris Williamson from standing as a candidate in the upcoming election after he was suspended from the party over accusations of antisemitism.

The party’s ruling body also refused to endorse Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, who was kicked out of the party over allegations of sexual harassment, at a meeting on Wednesday, The Independent understands.

Birmingham Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff has also been dropped as a candidate, although he never lost the Labour whip, a source confirmed.

The veteran MP faced a reselection battle after Labour members demanded a “trigger ballot” in his constituency, following a row over his support for demonstrators against LGBT+ lessons in a Birmingham primary school.

The trio can still stand as independent MPs, but they can no longer be Labour candidates.

The ruling came at a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which is considering the cases of some candidates for next month’s election.

New candidates will be selected for Labour in Mr Williamson’s Derby North seat, as well as the other two seats.

Dame Margaret Hodge, a prominent Jewish MP, welcomed the news of Labour dropping Mr Williamson.

She posted on Twitter: “Good riddance!! Should never have taken 10 months to get to this point.”

Fiona Sharpe, spokesman for the Labour Against Antisemitism campaign, said: “The decision of Labour’s NEC ruling body not to allow Chris Williamson to stand as the Labour candidate for Derby North is too late in coming and totally inadequate.

“Mr Williamson should have been expelled from the Labour Party years ago, when his views first started appearing in public.

“Instead the Labour Party appeared to drag its feet and, in our opinion, failed to take the appropriate action – an appalling demonstration of the alleged institutional racism now being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.”

Mr Williamson, a long-standing supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, was initially suspended from Labour in February after he was recorded suggesting the party had been “too apologetic” over antisemitism.

He was readmitted in June but then suspended again rapidly following a backlash from MPs and Jewish groups.

Mr Hepburn was suspended by Labour in October following a complaint of sexual harassment from a female party member.

It is understood that the NEC is still considering whether to endorse disgraced MP Keith Vaz after MPs voted to suspend him from parliament for six months over a report condemning him for his “willingness” to purchase drugs for sex workers.

Sally Gimson, who was hoping to stand in Bassetlaw following John Mann’s resignation, is understood to have not been endorsed by the NEC – following complaints about “very serious allegations concerning protected characteristics”, which can include race and disability.

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