Fury at peerage for Chakrabarti


Jewish Groups have reacted furiously to the announcement that Shami Chakrabarti is to be elevated to the House of Lords.

Ms Chakrabarti, who led the investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party earlier this summer, was awarded a peerage by Jeremy Corbyn in last week's resignation honours, following David Cameron's departure as Prime Minister.

Concerns had already been raised about Ms Chakrabarti's independence after she joined the party on the day Mr Corbyn appointed her to head the inquiry in April.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis led the anger when the honours list was published last Thursday.

He praised the human rights lawyer's "proud record of public service", but added: "In accepting this peerage, the credibility of her report lies in tatters and the Labour Party's stated intention to unequivocally tackle antisemitism remains woefully unrealised."

There is a way forward - everything is not lost

The Community Security Trust said the peerage, just five weeks after Ms Chakrabarti published her report, was "a shameless kick in the teeth for all who put hope in her now wholly compromised inquiry".

Marie van der Zyl, a vice-president of the Board of Deputies, dubbed the affair the "whitewash for peerages" scandal. The Board said the honour was "beyond disappointing" and a "reward" for Ms Chakrabarti's work on the inquiry.

Jennifer Gerber, the director of Labour Friends of Israel, questioned the seriousness of Mr Corbyn's commitment to ridding the party of antisemitism.

Ms Chakrabarti said she was "honoured" by the promotion. She did not respond to the JC's requests for an explanation of whether she knew about the peerage before completing her report.

Asked whether her appointment to the Lords undermined the credibility of the antisemitism inquiry, Mr Corbyn's spokesman said Ms Chakrabarti, the former director of civil rights group, Liberty, was "an ideal appointment to the Lords".

Lord Mitchell, a Jewish Labour peer and former shadow minister, said on Tuesday that he would quit the party if Mr Corbyn was re-elected as leader next month.

The response to the antisemitism crisis had pushed the peer to feel he "just can't stay in this party", he said.

The "final straws" had included the antisemitic abuse suffered by Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of Ms Chakrabarti's report in June, and then the award of the peerage.

He said: "I'm Labour to the core. I've got a lot of friends in the party and I feel desperately that if this man is re-elected as Labour leader then he's there at least until the next election and I want no part of it.

"There are points in your life where you have to say 'this is it - stand up and be counted', and that's what I'm doing."

He said Labour had been "hijacked" by hard-left activists and the Momentum group which supports Mr Corbyn.

David Abrahams, the Jewish property developer whose donations to Labour almost a decade ago caused controversy, has revealed he had been invited to meet Mr Corbyn.

Mr Abrahams said: "There is a way forward; everything is not lost. But there's a long way to go. I'm prepared to discuss the issues with him in good faith. The Jewish community feels alienated. If I can do anything to help repair the division, I will do so."

Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish Labour activist, was elected to Labour's National Executive Committee on Monday.

She received 85,687 votes as one of six successful candidates backed by Momentum.

Ms Wolfson said she was "excited and grateful" and would make implementing the recommendations of Ms Chakrabarti's report a priority.

Owen Smith, who is challenging Mr Corbyn for the party's leadership, held a campaign event at Alyth Gardens synagogue in north-west London last Sunday.

It is understood the session was arranged by the local Labour branch. The event was attended by around 50 people.

One Jewish attendee said Mr Smith had been pushed to explain how he would tackle antisemitism within the party if he became leader, but had been "thin on detail".

Mr Corbyn's office said at the weekend that a £10,000 donation to his leadership campaign last summer from an anti-Israel group had never been banked. The Observer claimed the Leicester-based Friends of Al-Aqsa (FoA) had raised the money for Mr Corbyn at a dinner.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said a cheque from the group had been incorrectly made out and was rejected by the bank.

Oliver Dowden, Conservative MP for Hertsmere, wrote to both the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Electoral Commission, urging them to launch an inquiry.

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