UK Labour said to quash internal anti-Semitism probe meant for racism watchdog

Investigation reportedly finds ‘no evidence’ that anti-Semitism complaints were ignored under former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s stewardship

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, waits for the declaration of his seat in the 2019 general election in Islington, London, December 13, 2019 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, waits for the declaration of his seat in the 2019 general election in Islington, London, December 13, 2019 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

An extensive internal investigation into the UK Labour party’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints will reportedly not be submitted to Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission over concerns by party lawyers that it could cause further damage.

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” and was said to have found “no evidence” of anti-Semitism complaints being treated differently from other forms of complaint, Sky News reported on Sunday.

The probe said there was a lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education and effective line management” and claimed to have found “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” toward Corbyn which “affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints,” according to the 860-page report.

A year ago, the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission 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. The commission said it decided to launch the formal inquiry after receiving numerous complaints of anti-Jewish discrimination in the Labour Party.

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.

Keir Starmer of the UK Labour party delivers a speech at an election campaign event in Harlow, England, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP/Matt Dunham)

New Labour leader Kier 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.

A formal investigation is rare step by the commission, which last investigated a political party in 2010, when it probed the far-right British National Party’s ban on minorities.

The commission, which was created by a Labour government in 2006, is vested with tough powers designed to force organizations to comply with equality and human rights laws.

It has been able to compel the Labour Party to reveal details of its handling of anti-Semitism in recent years, including internal communications such as text messages and emails.

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.

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 Photo/Tolga Akmen)

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.”

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn with supporters after delivering a speech during a general election campaign rally in East London on December 11, 2019, the final day of campaigning for the general election (Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

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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