Labour chief whip asks Jeremy Corbyn to apologise for antisemitism scandal

23 November 2020, 21:47 | Updated: 23 November 2020, 21:50

Jeremy Corbyn has been slammed for his comments on Labour's antisemitism row
Jeremy Corbyn has been slammed for his comments on Labour's antisemitism row. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Labour's chief whip has called on Jeremy Corbyn to "unequivocally, unambiguously and without reservation" apologise for claiming antisemitism in the party was "dramatically overstated for political reasons".

In a letter, Nick Brown said the former Labour leader's response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report caused "distress and pain" to the Jewish community.

Writing on Monday, he said Mr Corbyn should inform an investigation into whether he broke the party's code of conduct by apologising for his comments.

Read more: Jeremy Corbyn suspended from Labour over 'comments he made' on antisemitism report

He wrote: "Will you unequivocally, unambiguously and without reservation apologise for your comments made on the morning of 29 October, in particular for saying 'One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media', which caused such distress and pain to Jewish members of the Labour Party and the wider Jewish community?"

Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party last month over his comments, but was reinstated as a Labour member by the National Executive Committee following a meeting of a disciplinary panel three weeks later.

However, his successor as party leader Sir Keir Starmer last week blocked him from sitting as a Labour MP, though said he would keep the decision not to restore the whip "under review".

Mr Brown also asked Mr Corbyn to confirm that he will remove or edit his response - which he posted on Facebook, and asked for an assurance that he will cooperate fully with the party as it seeks to implement the EHRC's recommendations.

A Labour spokesman said: "Following consultation with the Labour Leader, the Chief Whip has written to Jeremy Corbyn about his precautionary suspension from the whip.

Read more: Rachel Riley: It is disgusting Jeremy Corbyn is back in the Labour Party

"In the interests of transparency, a copy of this letter has been put in the public domain. We will not be making any further comments."

The EHRC report found Labour had broken the law in its handling of antisemitism complaints, though Mr Corbyn said the scale of the issue had been "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by opponents inside and outside Labour, along with the media.

He later attempted to clarify his comments in a statement to the party, saying concerns about antisemitism were "neither 'exaggerated' nor 'overstated'".