British police have launched a criminal investigation into allegations of anti-Semitic hate crimes within the opposition Labour Party.
The Metropolitan Police said Friday that it was acting on a dossier of information given to London police chief Cressida Dick. A police spokesman said it was handed to her on September 4 following an interview on LBC radio.
LBC had in its possession an internal Labour Party dossier that detailed 45 cases involving social media posts by party members, including one post that read: “We shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on us all.”
The police statement said the person making the complaint “alleged that the documentation included evidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes. The contents have been examined by specialist officers. A criminal investigation has commenced into some of the allegations within the documentation.”
Police said they were seeking “early investigative advice” from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Dick told BBC radio there was evidence a crime may have been committed, based on the material given to her.
“If somebody passes us material which they say amounts to a crime we have a duty to look at that and not just dismiss it,” she said.
“We have been assessing some material that was passed to me, in a radio studio of all things, about two months ago and we are now investigating some of that material, because it appears there may have been crime committed.”
Police did not provide details about the possible hate crimes detailed in the dossier.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been dogged for the last two years by complaints of anti-Semitism within party ranks, as well as allegations that he too holds anti-Semitic views. He has said the party deplores all forms of racism.
Dick said Labour as a whole was not under investigation.
“We are not going to investigate the Labour Party. We would always want institutions and political parties and similar to be able to regulate themselves,” she said. “I hope we will be able to clear that up very quickly.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told BBC radio that the investigation was “thoroughly depressing, although sadly I’m not surprised.
“If people have committed hate crimes, then they need to be dealt with by the full force of the law,” he said. “There’s no role for them within the Labour Party.
“If this does one thing, it will be able to silence a very small number of people who still believe that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in my party,” which he said was hampering efforts to stamp out the problem.
Labour said it had not been contacted by the police but stood ready to cooperate with the investigation.
“The Labour Party has a robust system for investigating complaints of alleged breaches of Labour Party rules by its members,” a spokesman said. “Where someone feels they have been a victim of crime, they should report it to the police in the usual way.”