Another former Labour staffer has come forward to allege systemic interference in anti-Semitism complaints by senior members of the Britain’s main opposition party.
Tim Dexter, a former complaints officer at Labour headquarters, told the Times of London in an interview published Sunday that a top aide to party chief Jeremy Corbyn took over investigations and disciplinary proceedings into party members accused of anti-Semitism.
The allegations by Dexter come days after a string of former party officials spoke out about Labour’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism since Corbyn became leader of the left-wing party in 2015.
Dexter said that earlier this year, two of Corbyn’s top aides informed him they would be providing him and his team “administrative support,” but ended up seizing control of the entire process.
Dexter said that several months after they arrived, the aides abruptly moved to another part of the building to process the complaints, and Dexter and his staff were stripped of their authority to advise on the disciplinary proceedings.
He said longtime Corbyn ally Thomas Gardiner personally signed-off on all decisions, which he appeared to make in coordination with Corbyn’s office.
“It was obvious and certainly accepted by me and a couple of other staff members that Thomas was probably getting direction from LOTO [leader of the opposition’s office] on lots of decisions,” Dexter said.
According to The Times, Gardiner repeatedly refused to suspend a man who called Jewish Labour MPs were “Zionist cum buckets.”
Dexter, 26, who resigned from Labour earlier this year, violated his non-disclosure agreement to speak to the newspaper.
“They had one person who’s making the decisions unilaterally without any apparent understanding or necessary training for that,” Dexter told The Times. “It certainly felt like a massive misjudgement and an error.”
He said the intervention by Corbyn’s aides created a backlog and months-long delays in the complaints department.
“The team was gutted. I was the sole member of the complaints team but there was no urgency to move cases on or get more staff,” Dexter said.
In February 2019, in the wake of allegations of Israeli interference in British politics, Dexter recalled Gardiner telling Labour staff that adopting a zero tolerance policy to anti-Jewish discrimination would be “ridiculous.”
“Thomas walked over and said quite openly across the team: ‘This is why it would be ridiculous for us to have a zero tolerance approach when someone comes out and says sorry, even though they have said something bad, that we should be obliged to take any action.'”
Dexter, who is not Jewish, said anti-Jewish sentiment in Labour was widespread, not isolated to a number of individuals as the party claims.
“That’s not an adequate response, it’s there, it’s prevalent, it’s making a minority community feel very distressed and disturbed and affecting their ability to be in the party and possibly the country should we get into power,” he told the newspaper.
Dexter also alleged that spy software on the computer system led to demands from the HR Department, also run by a Corbyn ally, to explain the reason behind online searches, often on matters of anti-Semitism.
On Sunday, Labour denied Dexter’s allegations, saying in a statement to The Times that “seconded staff categorically did not take over any particular aspect of complaints work.”
The party also said Gardiner’s remarks on tolerating anti-Semitism were not true.
“This conversation categorically did not take place and Mr Gardiner said no such thing. Labour takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously.”
Dexter’s remarks come less than a week after a group of ex-Labour officials accused Corbyn and his closest aides of systemically interfering in efforts to address anti-Semitism within the party, in a documentary broadcast by the BBC.
The eight officials recounted receiving anti-Semitic abuse and alleged that senior party officials interfered in complaint investigations at Corbyn’s behest.
On Sunday, the Observer reported that two of the eight — Sam Matthews and Louise Withers Green — told the newspaper that they plan to sue Labour as they believe the party defamed them when responding to their claims.
On the evening the BBC program was aired, a Labour spokesman said: “It appears these disaffected former officials include those who have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, worked to actively to undermine it and have both personal and political axes to grind. This throws into doubt their credibility as sources.”
Accusations of hostility toward Jews have risen 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 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.”
“We completely reject any claim that the Labour Party is anti-Semitic,” the party said in a statement. “The Labour Party at all levels is implacably opposed to antisemitism and is determined to root out this social cancer from our movement and society.”