Jeremy Corbyn aides 'intervened' in antisemitism investigation

Sunday Times publishes new claims of attempts to influence disciplinary procedures


Labour’s antisemitism crisis continued to seethe over the weekend with the suspension of a mayoral candidate and fresh claims of aides of Jeremy Corbyn intervening in disciplinary cases.

Sean McCallum, a firefighter and a former soldier, was suspended only days after he was chosen to contest the local elections in Mansfield as the party’s candidate for Mayor.

According to the Guido Fawkes website, three years ago Mr McCallum had attempted to defend Ken Livingstone over his claim that Hitler supported Zionism, posting on social media that Zionism and Nazism were “equally foul”.

He also defended MP Naz Shah, who was suspended in 2016 for retweeting a satirical graphic suggesting Israel should be relocated to the USA.

Mr McCallum told the Mansfield Chad he had now resigned from the party but disputed his posts were antisemitic. The allegation against him “regarding antisemitism has been absolutely devastating,” he said.

But he acknowledged that he had made “a poor and regrettable choice of words” in his comments on Zionism.

The Sunday Times reported that two of Jeremy Corbyn’s aides intervened to lift the suspension last year of the left-wing Jewish activist Glyn Secker, who was being investigated for joining the Palestine Live Facebook group. Members of the group posted conspiracy theories of Israeli involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks, the paper said.

According to leaked emails seen by the Sunday Times, Mr Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications Seamus Milne told officials to reinstate Mr Secker, while another top aide Andrew Murray said the leader was “interested in this one”.

It also reported that it had obtained a tape of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell expressing support for Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who was dropped as a parliamentary candidate for South Thanet last year after remarks about the “Zionist sympathies” of a Labour MP.

The paper said the latest revelations “drove a coach and horses” through Labour claims that its leadership had not attempted to influence antisemitism investigations.

But it quoted a source saying that members of the leader’s office were no longer asked about disciplinary cases and downplayed the leaks as “a malicious, selective briefing from a disgruntled former employee”.

The chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, reacted to the story by attacking Labour's "woeful lack of leadership" on Twitter.

He observed that Mr Corbyn in a recent TV interview had claimed he had support from a sizeable number within the Jewish community, following a letter published in the Guardian and signed by 200 people, including  Mr Secker, who is secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour.

Mr Goldstein said when Jewish community leaders had met Mr Corbyn last April, "we asked him to make it clear that JVL do not speak for him. He said they did not but declined our offer to say that publicly. Now we know why. Only weeks earlier his office had blocked a suspension for one of its main protagonists."

Mr Secker last month told a Labour party branch meeting in South London that there had been a campaign of "misusing" antisemitism in order to discredit the Labour leader.

The former leader of Labour-run Camden Council, Sarah Hayward, told the Observer she was not surprised the party had been accused of “institutional antisemitism” after her own experience of trying to refer a case for investigation.

Ms Hayward had reported Mohammed Joynal Uddin, who was rejected as a council candidate for the party over comments about the Talmud in 2017. She also supplied further social media evidence in 2018.

“It seems there’s no way to get action in antisemitism cases unless they get in to the public domain and this is no way to run a disciplinary process,” the paper quoted her as saying.

Mr Uddin denied he was antisemitic and told the paper he had not been suspended and was unaware of any disciplinary action against him.

On Sunday, Mr McDonnell welcomed the decision of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate Labour's handling of antisemitism complaints.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, he said, "Let's get on with it now because I am hoping we will get a clean bill of health".

He wanted the party to be a "shining example" of how to handle issues such as antisemtiism both wihin it and wider society, he said.

The EHRC said last week its concerns were sufficient to consider using "statutory enforcement powers".


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