Equality and Human Rights Commission opens investigation into Labour antisemitism

Watchdog begins pre-enforcement proceedings after Jewish Labour Movement and Campaign Against Antisemitism dossiers


The Equality and Human Rights Commission has opened its investigation into Labour antisemitism.

The move, first reported by the JC, comes after the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) submitted dossiers detailing large numbers of Jew-hate allegations last year. 

During the initial pre-enforcement proceedings, the EHRC will meet the Labour leaders and ask them to account for the allegations.

The Commission is also likely to pressure Labour to explain why it should not expand the initial probe into a full-blown inquiry under section 20 of the Equality Act 2006.

If the EHRC proceeds with a statutory investigation, it will be able to use its powers to compel the party to reveal details of its handling of antisemitism in recent years, including internal communications such as text messages and emails.

It can also seek court injunctions to prevent further antisemitic discrimination and victimisation, and impose an action plan on the party.

A spokesperson for the EHRC said: “We believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. Our concerns are sufficient for us to consider using our statutory enforcement powers. As set out in our enforcement policy, we are now engaging with the Labour Party to give them an opportunity to respond.”

According to a Labour source, the party has known about the EHRC inquiry for some weeks and has been negotiating terms of reference.

In a statement on Wednesday, the JLM, which this week voted to remain a member of Labour for at least another month, said: "We did not take that decision [to submit a dossier] lightly.

"After years of anti-Jewish racism experienced by our members, and a long pattern of denial, obfuscation and inaction by those with the power and ability to do something about it, we felt there was little choice but to secure a fully independent inquiry, not encumbered by corrupted internal practices.

"Everything that has happened in the months since our referral supports our view that the Labour Party is now institutionally antisemitic...This evening Jewish Labour members made clear that we will not unconditionally stand by whilst we are treated with such intolerance and contempt."

CAA chairman Gideon Falter said: “The Labour Party has repeatedly failed to address its own antisemitism problem, resulting in MPs and members abandoning the party. It is a sad indictment that the once great anti-racist Labour Party is now being investigated by the equality and human rights regulator it established just a decade ago.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC.

"Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations."
“Antisemitism complaints received since April 2018 relate to about 0.1% of our membership, but one antisemite in our party is one too many. We are determined to tackle antisemitism and root it out of our Party."

In October, the JC revealed how a new Antisemitism Monitoring Centre set up by the JLM to record and process complaints relating to Jew-hate within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party had received over 600 submissions — just a week after it was launched.

An email sent by JLM to its 2,000 members suggested there was a urgent need for the service because Labour had allowed complaints of antisemitism to be “dismissed when reported, obfuscated when they entered the national press, and dragged on because that was politically easier”.

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