Al Jazeera documentary met with outrage and threats of legal action

Luke Stanger, 26, claimed that allegations made against him in the programme by a former party official were so serious that they prompted threats against his family


A prominent Labour party activist has contacted the police after his family allegedly received threats sparked by an Al Jazeera documentary, which accused him of working to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.

Luke Stanger, 26, claimed that allegations made against him in the programme by former party official Damian McCarthy were so serious that they prompted threats against his family, who contacted the police over concerns for their safety. Mr Stanger told the JC: “Mr McCarthy’s distressing statements led to threats to my family’s safety and we have alerted the police.”

He added that he had instructed libel specialists at London legal firm Mishcon De Reya to sue both Mr McCarthy and Al Jazeera over the allegations, which featured in the first episode of the three-part series.

The Qatari government-funded media network’s exposé, seen by many as an attempt to discredit those who called out antisemitism in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, which seemed timed to coincide with Labour conference, provoked threats of libel action.

As controversy raged over the screening, the third and final episode of the series failed to appear as scheduled on Tuesday this week, prompting suggestions it had been “pulled” due to legal challenges from past and present Labour officials and activists who claim they have been defamed by the programmes.

Al Jazeera claims to have sifted through more than 500 gigabytes of leaked documents, emails and video and audio footage purporting to reveal a political party still at war with itself for its investigation The Labour Files.
Programme-makers claimed the material, which included hundreds of thousands of emails exchanged by Labour officials and members, proved the party was operating “a criminal conspiracy”.

The documentary claimed Mr Corbyn was “undermined by a smear campaign from within” and had been the victim of “spying and dirty tricks”.

In an attempt to drag Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer into the antisemitism storm that swirled around Mr Corbyn, the documentary claimed “a hierarchy of racism exists under Keir Starmer’s leadership”.

But many of those featured in the show, like Mr Stanger, have reacted furiously to the allegations made against them.

Jonathan Hoffman, a former vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation who served as an adviser to Labour Against Antisemitism, was accused by the show of “having links to a far-right organisation”.

He told the JC: “This is libellous and I am consulting lawyers with a view to suing Al Jazeera. Nobody of any consequence believes Al Jazeera’s smears. Shame on Ofcom for giving it a clean bill of health.

“The readiness of Corbyn supporters — many of whom have been expelled or are suspended from the Labour Party —to toe the Al Jazeera line confirms that antisemitism remains a huge problem in Labour despite Starmer’s efforts.”

In the second episode of the series, entitled The Purge, Al Jazeera broadcasts footage of former Labour Friends of Israel director Dan Fox — partner of Labour MP Stella Creasy — attending a 2016 gathering of pro-Israel activists to discuss the imminent election of Sadiq Khan as London mayor.

In the footage, to incredulous gasps, Mr Fox tells those in the room that he is in favour of Mr Khan winning the race because he believes him to be “the right choice for the Jews of London”.

In the hours before the Al Jazeera show went out, Mr Fox said in a series of tweets: “On Monday night, Al Jazeera, the antisemitic state-media vehicle of a kleptocratic slave realm, will try to smear me as a far-right extremist. Here is the truth of their ‘investigation’.

“In 2016, I attended an event by a woman I’d known since my youth, on account of being friends with a family member.

“The occasion was the first time we’d met in real life in 20 years. But we had been arguing on Facebook for some weeks over my support for Khan in that year’s London Mayoral election; and especially over what I considered to be Islamophobic criticism of him.

“I was challenged to express this support in person at a get-together of an Israeli advocacy group at her house. I accepted the challenge.”

Dave Rich, Director of Policy at the Community Security Trust, told the JC: “The Labour Party’s antisemitism crisis has been repeatedly investigated by the EHRC, the BBC, an independent QC and even by Jeremy Corbyn’s own supporters in the party machine, and every one concluded that antisemitism was a real and serious problem.

“Rather than contribute anything new, Al Jazeera just provided a platform for people who helped to create Labour’s antisemitism problem to repeat their discredited views.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “The so-called documentary purports to show that antisemitism in Labour was a sham without speaking to any of the victims or leaders of the Jewish community or antisemitism experts.

"A viewer would barely know from the programme that the EHRC, an independent body established by a Labour government, found that Labour was so racist that it broke the law, following an investigation in which the CAA was the complainant.”

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