Corbyn won't back away from Salah

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn has refused to condemn demands for an inquiry into the influence of the Israel lobby, or the antisemitic comments of a Palestinian activist whom he invited to tea on the Commons terrace.

Last week, the JC reported that Mr Corbyn backed calls by the lawyer for Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, for an inquiry into the influence of "pro-Israel lobbying groups" on government policy.

The call came at a press conference after Salah's successful appeal against Home Office moves to deport him.

Sitting by Mr Corbyn, Mr Salah's lawyer, Tayyab Ali, said that there should be an independent inquiry into "the mechanism that was used to provide information to government departments, the Prime Minister himself, and his relationship to pro-Israel lobbying groups."

He singled out Bicom chairman Poju Zabludowicz, "who I understood supported the Conservative Party quite strongly with financial donations, and is also, I think, a trustee of the Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust". (Neither is the case.)

Mr Corbyn then said: "I think a public inquiry is the best course of action to take. Normally one would have said that the appropriate Select Committee in Parliament would undertake this inquiry, but I think the issues go far wider than parliamentary procedure, they go to the heart of what's going on in the Home Office and the way the government makes decisions, so I strongly support that and I will be writing to the Home Secretary accordingly."

But this week Mr Corbyn said his views had been distorted. He said: "I called, and continue to call for, an inquiry into the decisions made by the Home Secretary Theresa May concerning Raed Salah. This is what I said at the press conference, and what I reiterated when asked."

Any suggestion that he called for an inquiry into Jews' influence on policy was "an even more ludicrous misrepresentation".

Mr Corbyn's remarks are clearly seen on a video of the press conference to follow the call for an inquiry into "pro-Israel lobbying groups".

The JC this week asked Mr Corbyn why, if he does not support such an inquiry, he did not say so at the press conference, despite appearing to endorse the call.

The Labour Party refused to add to its statement last week that "these are absolutely not the views of the Labour Party."

    Last updated: 4:48pm, April 26 2012