Rachel Riley: Jeremy Corbyn 'trying to making himself a martyr' over anti-Semitism row

1 November 2020, 13:56 | Updated: 1 November 2020, 15:33

By Megan White

Rachel Riley has told LBC she believes Jeremy Corbyn is “trying to making himself a martyr” after he was suspended from Labour over comments he made about the EHRC’s anti-Semitism report.

The former Labour leader had the whip withdrawn on Thursday pending investigation over comments he made following the publication of the bombshell report.

He was widely criticised over a statement he posted on Facebook in which he rejected some of the report's findings and claimed the issue had been "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by his critics.

The damning report by the EHRC found the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

But Rachel Riley told Swarbrick on Sunday that she believes Mr Corbyn “knew exactly what was going to happen” when he made the comments.

She said: “What the report said was that saying that the Jewish people were sneering and lying about reports of anti-Semitism constitutes unlawful harassment of Jewish people.

“Keir Starmer spoke to Jeremy Corbyn the day before the report was released, told him what was going to be in his speech that said anyone that still repeats this smear rhetoric is part of the problem, and a few minutes before Sir Keir Starmer went and made that speech, Jeremy Corbyn said just that.

“He knew exactly what was going to happen, I think he’s trying to make himself a martyr.

“But this shouldn’t be about Jeremy Corbyn anymore, this should be about vindication of Jewish people who have suffered great racism over the last five years and more, and extreme pain, and this is vindication.

“This should be the start of the healing process.”

In a broadcast interview, Mr Corbyn insisted he was not "part of the problem" over the party's handling of anti-Semitism.

He said: "The numbers of cases in the public perception had become overstated.

"The existence of the problem, I fully acknowledge, which is why I took action to end the problem in the party by introducing a process to get anti-Semites out of the party."

In response to Sir Keir Starmer's comments about those who deny the seriousness of anti-Semitism being part of the problem, Mr Corbyn said: "No, I'm not part of the problem."