EHRC preparing to use legal powers to demand internal Labour correspondence as part of antisemitism probe

Reports suggest the racism watchdog has seen sufficient evidence to warrant launching a 'full statutory investigation'


Evidence of Labour antisemitism, given to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), is significant enough for the watchdog to use legal powers to demand access to e-mails and records of party officials, reports suggest.

Last month the EHRC began pre-enforcement proceedings against Labour, after the party was reported to the body for its failure to tackle Jew-hate within its ranks.

The EHRC’s board is set to meet in May to discuss whether or not to proceed, but according to the Sunday Times, insiders at the watchdog organisation say the evidence they have received “meets the legal threshold for a statutory investigation.”

It would make Labour the second party the EHRC to face such a probe after the far-right BNP. On Monday, the Times reported a suggestion that the announcement of whether or not to commence with a statutory investigation might be delayed until after the European elections in late May.

In the years since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, the party's official line allegations of antisemitism has shifted.

While it used to dismiss them as smears. Last year, it changed to admit that there was antisemitism within the party but that this restricted to “a small minority of members.”

Last week, a recording of a meeting Mr Corbyn had with Margaret Hodge, the Jewish Labour MP for Barking, was published by the Sunday Times.

In the recording, Mr Corbyn can be heard admitting that evidence of antisemitism “was either being mislaid, ignored or not used.”

Another Labour MP, Ronnie Campbell, went on national radio and described it as “deplorable and unacceptable” that the meeting between Dame Margaret and Mr Corbyn was recorded.

He went on to claim that “people in the Parliamentary Labour Party are using the Jewish issue, the antisemitic issue, as a big stick to beat Corbyn and get rid of him.”

The party was first reported to the EHRC by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) in September 2017, during Labour’s annual conference in Brighton.

The conference was so blighted by reports of antisemitism that the Labour leader of Brighton & Hove local council, Warren Morgan, told the party he would not permit it to use council premises again unless it took serious action to combat antisemitism.

Mr Morgan later resigned from the party.

The Jewish Labour Movement also submitted a dossier of alleged antisemitism by party members to the EHRC.

Gideon Falter, chairman of CAA, said the organisation had “full confidence” in the EHRC “to investigate thoroughly and deliver justice.

“The Jewish community has gone to every conceivable length to persuade Jeremy Corbyn, Jennie Formby and Labour’s National Executive Committee to act, but we have been persistently rebuffed”, he said.

“We had no option but to seek an external, impartial investigation, and that is why we asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate illegal antisemitic discrimination and victimisation”.

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