Labour denies claims senior figures interfered with anti-Semitism complaints

The Labour party have denied senior figures interfered with anti-Semitism complaints after fresh claims were made by BBC Panorama. 

The Labour figures have been accused of interfering with a disciplinary process investigating claims of anti-Semitism in the party. 

In a Panorama programme due to air on Wednesday night, communications chief and Jeremy Corbyn ally Seumas Milne and National Constitution Committee general secretary Jennie Formby are singled out for criticism.

Labour has denied the claims and written a complaint to the BBC.

A total of eight former Labour officials spoke to Panorama, including four who have signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) on the subject of anti-Semitism, according to the BBC.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (REUTERS)

Dan Hogan, who was an investigator in the disputes team, raised issues about Ms Formby.

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”.

Former head of disputes Sam Matthews said he interpreted an email from Mr Milne as “not a helpful suggestion” but as “an instruction”.

The BBC reports that, in the email from March last year, Mr Milne said there should be a review of the disciplinary process into anti-Semitic complaints.

“Something’s going wrong and we’re muddling up political disputes with racism,” he reportedly wrote.

“I think going forward we need to review where and how we’re drawing the line.”

Mr Corbyn and Mr Milne (PA Archive/PA Images)

Anti-Semitism complaints within the party have increased significantly since Mr Corbyn became leader in 2015, the broadcast suggests.

The BBC is yet to release any numbers in relation to the complaints.

The investigation details allegations the complaints process had interference from within the Labour leader’s office.

Testimony reportedly includes allegations there were substantial disagreements within the party about what constituted anti-Semitism.

It features a claim complaints were processed directly by aides in Mr Corbyn’s Westminster office on one occasion, the broadcaster said.

Labour, which has been braced for the accusations, wrote to BBC director-general Lord Hall to complain ahead of the broadcast.

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

The spokesman said: “The Panorama programme and the BBC have engaged in deliberate and malicious representations designed to mislead the public.

“We completely reject any claim that the Labour Party is anti-Semitic.

“Labour is taking decisive action against anti-Semitism, doubling the number of staff dedicated to dealing with complaints and cases.

“It appears these disaffected former officials include those who have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, worked to actively undermine it, and have both personal and political axes to grind.

“This throws into doubt their credibility as sources.

“Our records show that after these officials left and after Jennie Formby became general secretary, the rate at which anti-Semitism cases have been dealt with, increased more than four-fold.”

A BBC spokesman accused Labour of “criticising a programme they have not seen”.

He said: “The programme adheres to the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

“In line with those, the Labour Party has been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.”

Additional reporting by Press Association


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