Labour needs independent body to investigate anti-Semitism, say Christians on the Left

01 July 2019

PA

Chris Willamson

Chris Willamson

AN INDEPENDENT body should be created to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, Christians on the Left, the party’s Christian affiliate group, has said.

On Friday, Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, was re-suspended by Labour, having been readmitted earlier in the week. He had originally been suspended for saying that the party was “too apologetic” about anti-Semitism.

Speaking on Friday, the vice-chair of Christians on the Left, Hannah Rich, said: “It is really important that all complaints [about anti-Semitism] are dealt with by people who are not members of the party, and who are not invested in the decision. . .

“We think it is important that all parties have that independent accountability.”

A statement issued by Christians on the Left on Thursday, before Mr Williamson’s re-suspension, called for “a much clearer and firmer line from the leadership of the party that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated, ignored, or excused”. It urged the party’s leadership to “not only to challenge and remove all instances of anti-Semitism and racism within the membership, but also to go further and commit to introducing transparent disciplinary procedures and practices, enacted by an independent disciplinary body”.

Ms Rich said: “We deliberately didn’t put his [Mr Williamson’s] name in the statement because we wanted to put it in the whole context of the disciplinary process. An independent body would sort this situation out.

“Over the last few months, we have had a lot of conversations with the leadership, but we felt this week, in the light of the readmission of Chris Williamson, things came to a head; so we decided to put out a statement.”

After it was announced that Mr Williamson would be readmitted to the party, the deputy leader, Tom Watson, co-ordinated a statement in protest, which was signed by 121 MPs and peers. It said that they could not “overstate the depth and breadth of hurt and anger felt about the readmission of Chris Williamson into the Labour Party.

“It is clear to us that the Labour Party’s disciplinary process remains mired by the appearance of political interference. This must stop. We need a truly independent process.

“We call on Jeremy Corbyn to show leadership by asking for this inappropriate, offensive and reputationally damaging decision to be overturned and reviewed.

“Ultimately, it is for Jeremy Corbyn to decide whether Chris Williamson retains the Labour whip. He must remove it immediately if we are to stand any hope of persuading anyone that the Labour party is taking antisemitism seriously.”

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