A Labour activist expelled for heckling a Jewish MP at an event on antisemitism has claimed Jeremy Corbyn said the member had “done nothing wrong”.
Marc Wadsworth said the Labour leader’s team had phoned him to say they were “working behind the scenes” on his behalf.
The Labour member and left-wing campaigner was kicked out of the party on Friday after a disciplinary hearing earlier in the week.
Speaking afterwards, he told reporters he believed he had the support of Mr Corbyn.
Saying he had been told his expulsion was partly on the grounds that his “verbal attack” on Ms Smeeth had “embarrassed the leader”, he said: “The leader has told mutual friends he wasn’t embarrassed because he doesn’t see that I did anything wrong.”
Mr Wadsworth also said Mr Corbyn’s office had called on the first day of his disciplinary hearing to tell him they were working to help him.
“When they called me on the first day of the hearing they told me that they’d been working behind the scenes, that what I said wasn’t antisemitism,” he said.
“But then you have to interpose that with the fact that Jeremy did have a bit of a go at me at the launch of the Chakrabarti report and said perhaps I could have used kinder language.”
Mr Wadsworth said he had been in touch with Mr Corbyn’s office and “in touch with the leadership” recently, describing himself and the Labour leader as “old friends and comrades”.
Labour sources said a member of Mr Corbyn's team had spoken with Mr Wadsworth, but only in an attempt to "reduce the risks of incidents" outside his disciplinary hearing.
Mr Wadsworth said he would be “looking at all my options to legally challenge the decision” to expel him. He pointed out that the panel to expel him consisted of three white people.
Mr Wadsworth was expelled after Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) found he had commit two offences under rules relating to bringing the party into disrepute. At the launch of a report on antisemitism in Labour, he had publicly accused Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth of working “hand-in-hand” with a right-wing newspaper.
The decision to expel the former journalist was welcomed by Jewish community groups.
Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion has to be the right result and is a step in the right direction.
“We express our admiration for and solidarity with Ruth Smeeth MP, who had had to endure the most revolting antisemitism for far too long and gave evidence at the hearing. Enough is enough.”
Supporters of Mr Wadsworth, however, criticised the decision.
Labour MP Chris Williamson, who had acted as a character witness for the campaigner, called the expulsion “perverse” and “absurd”, saying: “It flies in the face of the evidence that was presented and offences against the principles of natural justice.
“The NCC’s decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour Party’s record of standing up for fairness.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies