Seventy serving and former Labour officials have condemned Jeremy Corbyn‘s handling of the party’s anti-Semitism crisis in a bombshell submission to the UK’s equalities watchdog.
The Labour Party is under formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism.
The 70 current and ex-staff have given sworn statements which form part of the Jewish Labour Movement’s submission to the EHRC.
The document handed over by the JLM represents a major blow to Mr Corbyn’s general election campaign as it contains numerous accusations about him as well as the Labour Party more broadly.
It includes a claim that some prospective Jewish Labour members in one constituency were subjected to ‘home visits’ before they were allowed to join.
The JLM submission argues: ‘The Labour Party is no longer a safe space for Jewish people or for those who stand up against anti-Semitism.
‘That is the disturbing but inevitable conclusion from the evidence that JLM has put before the Commission over the course of the past 13 months.’
The 53-page document claims that ‘Mr Corbyn himself has repeatedly associated with, sympathised with and engaged in anti-Semitism’.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured at a campaign event in London on November 27, and the Labour Party are under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Jewish Labour Movement has made a formal submission to the EHRC in which it claims Labour under Mr Corbyn, pictured in Nottingham yesterday, has tried to deny that it has a problem with anti-Semitisim
It sets out in 11 points examples of Mr Corbyn’s past behaviour which the JLM claimed had acted as ‘signals to party members’ that ‘anti-Semitic views are acceptable’.
The JLM, which has been affiliated to Labour for decades, alleges that the party has tried to deny it has a problem and claims employees have spread ‘conspiracy theories designed to discredit those who speak out against anti-Semitism.’
It also claims that ‘high profile and senior members of the Party have repeatedly defended and/or associated with those accused of anti-Semitism’.
The JLM said this had provided ‘legitimacy’ for people in the lower branches of the party to ‘do the same and/or deny that a problem exists’.
Based on the evidence compiled by the JLM it concluded that Labour’s internal process for the handling of complaints was ‘inherently politicised’.
It alleges that staff were asked to upload details of cases to a USB drive which was then delivered to the Leader of the Opposition’s office for staff there to review and make recommendations.
The JLM submission alleges that Jewish Labour members have been ‘victimised’ at various levels of the party.
For example, it cites evidence submitted by one respondent who claimed an official at a constituency Labour party had ‘objected to 25 applications for membership from the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and required home visits to these prospective members’ houses’.
‘This was not a requirement for other prospective members and appears to have been direct discrimination against Jewish applicants for membership,’ the submission states.
The EHRC investigation is ongoing and it remains unclear when it will publish its findings.
The JLM has called for the watchdog to recommend that Labour is forced to make a public statement ‘acknowledging the scale and extent of the issue of anti-Semitism in the Party’.
That statement would also apologise for ‘promoting a pervasive culture of denialism and obfuscation and diminishing the experience of those who have suffered as a result’.
The JLM is calling for a tougher and more transparent Internal investigations process and for a requirement that all cases must be resolved by Labour within three months.
James Libson, a partner at the Mishcon de Reya law firm which is representing the JLM, accused Labour of not fully investigating all cases of anti-Semitism within it.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘There are many, many outstanding complaints, many examples of interference and many examples of double-standards in the way in which complaints are processed.’
Mr Corbyn said this morning that he ‘completely’ rejects allegations made by the JLM that the party had become a refuge for anti-Semites under his leadership.
Asked about the group’s claims during a campaign visit to a school in Peterborough, Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I completely reject that. When I became leader of the party there were no processes in place to deal with anti-Semitism.’
He added: ‘We introduced an appeals procedure to deal with it and we introduced an education process so that party members understood the hurt that can be caused by anti-Semitic remarks or anti-Semitic behaviour.’
Mr Corbyn said that the ‘total number of cases’ of anti-Semitism ‘as a proportion of party membership is very, very low indeed’ but ‘one case of anti-Semitism is one too many’.
‘I do not interfere with cases and as I pointed out it’s an independent process,’ he said.
A Labour Party spokeswoman said: ‘Antisemitism is an evil and we are committed to rooting it out of our Party and society. We are fully cooperating with the EHRC.
‘The allegation about numbers of outstanding cases is not accurate. And it is categorically untrue that anyone has been instructed to lie.
‘The Labour Party is not institutionally anti-Semitic and complaints relate to a small minority of our members.’