Jeremy Corbyn voiced concern of antisemitism evidence in Labour being ‘mislaid or ignored’

‘I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used and that there had to be some better system’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 14 April 2019 18:28 BST
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May clash as Prime Minister calls out Labour party antisemitism

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has expressed concern that evidence of antisemitism in the party’s ranks may have been “mislaid” or “ignored”.

The remarks were leaked from a private conversation between Mr Corbyn and the senior Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who has been a vocal critic of the party’s approach to allegations of antisemitism.

The discussion was held in February, as Mr Corbyn outlined his intention to appoint former cabinet minister Lord Falconer to review the party’s complaints process.

It was also held as Dame Margaret accused Mr Corbyn, or his staff, of misleading her over disciplinary procedures regarding longstanding allegations of antisemitism.

The Sunday Times quoted the Labour leader saying: “The point of him [Mr Falconer] is that he will look at the speed of dealing with cases, the administration of them, and the collation of the evidence before it is put before appropriate panels and things.

“Because I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used and that there had to be some better system.”

Mr Corbyn also discussed how he himself had been the target of abuse, adding: “You see, I get a huge amount of abusive stuff, mostly, some of it’s quite threatening, you know, murder and stuff.”

Responding to the leak, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “This shows Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to make procedures as robust and efficient as possible and to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.

“We don’t comment on staffing matters. Complaints are being handled in the usual way.

“The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.

“All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

A Labour source added: “Before Jennie Formby became general secretary, we were alarmed that at times it seemed that former compliance unit staffers were targeting Jewish activists not in breach of rules, while obstructing action on clear-cut cases of antisemitism.”

Posting on Twitter on Sunday morning Dame Margaret called for an independent complaints system to deal with antisemitism. “Only then will we get full transparency and a complaints process free from political interference,” she wrote.

Discussing antisemitism in the party’s ranks, the Labour MP David Lammy also told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that there had been a “failure in leadership”, as he described allegations as a “stain on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of this party”.

“I think that very few of the Parliamentary Labour Party have confidence in current system. We’re now being investigated by the EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission], understandably,” he said. “For all of those reasons we do need an independent system that has the confidence of party members and the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

He continued: “This pernicious nastiness is found on the extreme left as it is found on the extreme right and we resist it and fight it equally.”

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