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UK Labour party vows quick probe into leaking of anti-Semitism report

New leader Keir Starmer said to have thwarted attempt by supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn to stop investigation; reportedly says some may face disciplinary action

Keir Starmer, left, with Jeremy Corbyn at the European Union headquarters in Brussels after a bilateral Brexit meeting, September 27, 2018. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
Keir Starmer, left, with Jeremy Corbyn at the European Union headquarters in Brussels after a bilateral Brexit meeting, September 27, 2018. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

The UK Labour party said Thursday that it will quickly investigate how an internal report was leaked on Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism within its ranks.

The party’s ruling body laid out a timeline for the probe to be completed by mid-July.

Supporters of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn had attempted to stop an inquiry into the matter, the Times reported, but their failure was seen by some as proof that new party leader Sir Keir Starmer has consolidated his power within the party.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Starmer said those named in the report for breaking the rules could face disciplinary action.

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)

The internal report found fault in the party’s handling of anti-Semitic incidents between 2014 and 2019, acknowledging that complaints were not properly logged and often ignored. But it mostly blamed “a hyper-factional atmosphere” and hostility to former leader Jeremy Corbyn within the party as derailing efforts to combat Jew hatred.

Critics of the report said it was leaked in an attempt to smear the whistleblowers who raised the alarm about levels of anti-Semitism within the party.

According to the Guardian, the report into Labour’s governance and legal unit — which handled complaints of anti-Semitism — found that “many staff, including [governance and legal unit] staff and senior staff… were bitterly opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and seem to have been demotivated, or largely interested in work that could advance a factional agenda.”

It found that the situation had improved since current General Secretary Jennie Formby took office in 2018.

The investigation was completed in the last month of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It concluded that no current or former staff were “motivated by anti-Semitic intent.”

The probe said there was a lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education and effective line management.”

Jennie Formby at the 2016 Labour Party conference. (Wikimedia commons/Rwendland)

The report had originally been set for submission to the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission as part of its investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism with the party, but has reportedly been shelved over concerns by party lawyers that it could cause further damage.

A year ago, the EHRC announced it had launched a formal investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

The EHRC, the main government anti-racism watchdog, said it would probe whether the main opposition party led at the time by Corbyn had discriminated against, harassed or victimized Jews in violation of the UK’s 2006 Equality Act.

The organization said it would also examine whether the party responded to complaints of unlawful acts in a lawful, efficient and effective manner.

Responding to the decision to quash the internal report into the complaints system rather than submit it to the EHRC inquiry, a Labour party spokesperson told Sky News: “The Party has submitted extensive information to the EHRC and responded to questions and requests for further information, none of which included this document.”

According to Sky News, the party’s lawyers were concerned the internal probe would hurt its case.

Starmer, who replaced Corbyn in a party election earlier this month, has said he would look to fully cooperate with the EHRC’s report into anti-Semitism in the party.

Labour’s Keir Starmer gestures, during the Labour leadership hustings at the SEC centre, in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

An interparliamentary committee of inquiry had previously dismissed as unsatisfactory an internal Labour audit that largely cleared the party of anti-Semitism allegations.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive surge in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews had been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews accused Corbyn of encouraging anti-Semitic rhetoric and at times engaging in it, though he disputes the claim.

Corbyn vowed to punish any party member caught making racist statements, yet he defended a number of members who made vitriolic anti-Semitic remarks, and expelled hardly any members despite more than 850 formal complaints.

Corbyn himself drew vast criticism for his own actions. Last year he expressed regret for having defended a 2012 anti-Semitic mural in London’s East End. The mural, named Freedom of Humanity, was painted on a property near Brick Lane by the Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman. It depicted a group of men — seemingly caricatures of Jewish bankers and businessmen — counting their money on a Monopoly board which is balanced on the back of naked workers.

Last year he was found to have authored a glowing foreword to a book that claims that Jews control global financial systems and describes them as “men of a single and peculiar race.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington, north London, December 16, 2019. (Isabel Infantes/PA via AP)

In addition, the Hamas terror group has thanked Corbyn for his solidarity in recognizing Palestinian mourning over the 71st anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel.

The now former Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.

Last year it emerged that in 2014 Corbyn attended a ceremony that honored the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. He later said “I was present when [a wreath] was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”

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