Human rights body to rule on how Labour dealt with anti-Semitism controversy

The Equality and Human Rights Commission to rule after launching landmark probe into the party.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour is bracing itself for the result of a human rights investigation into how it has handled the anti-Semitism crisis that has rocked the party.

The much-anticipated release of a report into the situation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to be released on Thursday is likely to cause more turmoil in the party’s ranks.

It comes after years of complaints over how allegations of anti-Semitism were dealt with under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The human rights body launched its probe in May 2019 and has looked at the party’s disciplinary processes and response to complaints.

The Guardian reported the human rights body will recommend an independent complaints system be set up in the wake of the controversy, but that direct disciplinary action against high profile figures in the party should not be taken.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said, ahead of the release of the report, that the anti-Semitism controversy had been a “shameful” period in the party’s history.

On the eve of its release, former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband said that the way Mr Corbyn dealt with the situation was “appalling” and described the period as a “dreadful, dark, shameful period”.

He told Times Radio: “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.

“It’s a dreadful, dark, shameful period and the failure to be clear, the failure to be decisive, the failure to say that anyone who is an anti-Semite isn’t welcome in the Labour Party, the failure to clear that out is a source of shame for me as someone who’s still a member of the Labour Party.”

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.

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.

Sir Keir Starmer, who replaced Mr Corbyn as Labour leader in April, has said tackling the issue of anti-Semitism and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community is a top priority for him.

Both Mr Corbyn and Sir Keir are expected to make statements after the EHRC ruling is made public.

The probe follows a tumultuous few years within the party which has seen some MPs quit its ranks amid claims that allegations of anti-Semitism were not being taken seriously by the leadership of the time.

Allegations involving the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone are believed to be among those examined by the probe.

And veteran MP Dame Margaret Hodge had a robust exchange with Mr Corbyn about his handling of anti-Semitic allegations in the party as he left the Commons chamber in 2018.

It emerged earlier this year that Labour would pay “substantial damages” to whistleblowers who contributed to a TV expose of its handling of anti-Semitism.

The move triggered a clash between party leader Sir Keir and his predecessor Mr Corbyn.

The spat came when the party issued an unreserved apology over “defamatory and false allegations” made following a BBC Panorama investigation.

Mr Corbyn said it was “disappointing” that the party had settled the claim, adding that it was a “political decision, not a legal one”.

At the time, the move was seen as a clear sign Sir Keir wanted to draw a distinction between the party he leads and the one over which Mr Corbyn presided.

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