Labour awaits result of human rights probe into anti-Semitism crisis

29 October 2020, 09:19

Protesters during the demonstration organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism outside the Labour Party headquarters
Protesters during the demonstration organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism outside the Labour Party headquarters. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Labour is awaiting the result of what is expected to be a damning report into claims of antisemitism within the party during Jeremy Corbyn's tenure as leader.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launched its landmark probe in May 2019 following persistent allegations of anti-Semitism under former leader Mr Corbyn.

His successor as leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that tackling the issue and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community is a top priority for him.

A draft version of the EHRC report was sent to Labour in July, as under the Equality Act 2010, the subject of an investigation by the commission must be given at least 28 days in order to make representations of its findings before the final report is released.

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The report has looked at the party's disciplinary processes and response to complaints.

The release comes after Mr Corbyn's former aide Karie Murphy insisted that the party removed anti-Semites "more quickly, transparently and effectively than ever before" during his tenure.

Mr Corbyn is expected to make a statement after the report is made public as well as Sir Keir.

The EHRC is not expected to make direct recommendations that disciplinary action should be taken.

However, sources close to the inquiry claim an earlier draft report found evidence of indirect discrimination in the party's processes.

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Labour former foreign secretary David Miliband has said that ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of the anti-Semitism controversy was "appalling".

He claimed Mr Corbyn had failed to deal with the issue properly and Labour had gone through a "dreadful, dark, shameful period".

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: "I'm not going to claim I know what's in Jeremy Corbyn's heart.

"What I'm clear about is that he failed to deal with this issue in a way that was appalling in all its aspects.

"Whether it be cartoons or statements, they reflected a complete blindness to the issue and to the importance of it."

Dame Louise Ellman, the former MP who quit Labour over Jeremy Corbyn's handling of anti-Semitism, said she wants the former party leadership to be "made irrelevant".

She said that Labour is "not there yet" under new leader Sir Keir Starmer, adding: "I would like to see changes so the people who were responsible at a leadership level for creating this dreadful situation are made irrelevant.

"That's what I would like to see. A party that they would no longer want to be in, that they feel uncomfortable in."