UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Saturday that a recent BBC program on anti-Semitism in his party had “many, many inaccuracies,” claiming that the producers adopted a “premeditated position” prior to the broadcast.
In BBC’s Panorama program, which aired Wednesday, former Labour staff members recounted being subjected to anti-Semitic abuse and alleged that senior party officials interfered in investigations of complaints.
“I watched the program and I felt there were many, many inaccuracies in the program,” The Guardian quoted Corbyn as saying during a visit to the Durham Miners’ Gala. “The program adopted a predetermined position on its own website before it was broadcast.”
The Labour leader went on to defend his party’s conduct on accusations of bigotry in recent years.
“Our party members do have the right to be heard if they’re accused of anything and our party staff have a right to be supported and they are supported,” he said.
Asked about a UK racism watchdog’s probe into anti-Semitism accusations against Labour, Corbyn said “Anti-Semitism is a poison, it is vile, it is wrong… It is a poison in our society and any other society… It is not acceptable in any form.”
The prime minister hopeful claimed that every accusation against members of his party is taken seriously. “We investigate every case that comes up… It’s less than 0.1 percent of our membership that have ever been involved in any accusation — never mind any resolution — of the issue.”
Accusations of hostility toward Jews have riven Labour since Corbyn, a longtime supporter of the Palestinians, became party leader in 2015.
Corbyn’s opponents say criticism of Israel by some Labour members — especially those who joined after Corbyn took the helm — has strayed over the line into anti-Semitism and claim the party has not taken the issue seriously.
The Labour Party condemned the BBC documentary, saying it contained “deliberate and malicious representations.” It alleged the former staffers who took part had “personal and political axes to grind.”
The Jewish Labour Movement, the party’s Jewish affiliate, told Sky News on Thursday that 30 current and former staff members, as well as party officers, have reported to the group about their encounters with anti-Semitism, even though the Labour Party is “very keen on silencing those who wish to come forward.”