Jeremy Corbyn in Holocaust Memorial Day row over claims Charedi men 'dragged' into photos

Exclusive: Charedi man says 'I don't support Corbyn and never did' after he is pictured with Labour leader


Jeremy Corbyn is at the centre of a Holocaust Memorial Day row over claims his team "dragged" members of the Charedi community into media photographs at the event.

Levi Schapiro, the Stamford Hill-based founder of the Jewish Community Council, messaged "all contacts" on Sunday evening after the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) event in central London claiming he had been "unexpectedly dragged" into "a picture of myself and Jeremy Corbyn" .

Mr Schapiro added: "I don't support Corbyn and never did."

The Labour leader had arrived at the national commemoration event at the Queen Elizabeth Centre in Westminster accompanied by his wife Laura Alvarez, Labour general secretary Jennie Formby and three other party officials, including his chief of staff Karie Murphy.

But sources have confirmed to the JC that on arrival at the venue Mr Corbyn and his party were immediately greeted by two Charedi individuals - Shraga Stern and another individual. 

Mr Schaprio denied he had been at the venue early enough to greet the Labour leader - but admitted to the JC  that he had spoken to him once inside.

As they walked into the venue shortly before 3pm, tickets were handed out to the Labour leader's group, but the appearance of Mr Stern and the other male appeared to take the security team at the Westminster venue by surprise.

Despite the mix-up over tickets, Mr Stern and Mr Schapiro were later seen inside the venue where they were photographed on several occasions with the Labour leader.

"It was obvious someone in Mr Corbyn's team had arranged for Shraga Stern and another man to be waiting outside the Queen Elizabeth Centre when Jeremy Corbyn arrived," confirmed the source.

"They greeted the Labour leader as he got out of the car and it was hardly a surprise that photographers were there to capture the moment. Inside the venue at one stage Corbyn was photographed walking with Shraga Stern conveniently situated just behind him."

Another source who attended Sunday's event and asked not to be named, told the JC: "I saw Mr Corbyn in the company of two Charedi men. "The whole thing looked like some kind of joke."

A source told the JC that the pair had also been seen with Mr Corbyn's wife last Wednesday in the House of Commons to watch Prime Minister's Question Time.

But the source added that when a representative of the Labour leader had confirmed his attendance at today's event there had been no mention of the need for additional tickets for the two extra guests.

This evening the JC was sent a full copy of Mr Schapiro's message sent from his phone to "all contacts."

It reads: "I want to make it clear if you come across a picture of myself and Jeremy Corbyn please be advised I did not pose and unexpectedly dragged into it without realising." Mr Schapiro adds in bold text: "I DON'T SUPPORT CORBYN AND NEVER DID."

Mr Schapiro later told the JC he had been invited to the HMDT event but had arrived after Mr Corbyn was inside.

He said he was approached by Mr Corbyn during the event who greeted him warmly as they began to speak.

The HMDT event was attended by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, Lord Pickes, Labour MPs Dame Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger and John Mann amongst others.

Mr Stern meanwhile is known to have been attempting to court the Labour leader of the past year. He was behind a letter sent last September defending Mr Corbyn against what he said were "fake antisemitism smears."

But Mr Stern was himself condemned for claiming his letter had the support of a large section of the Charedi community in Stamford Hill.

He was further attacked when he attempted to stop London Mayor Sadiq Khan from speaking at the annual Board of Deputies dinner, claiming the organisation did not represent the Orthodox community. The letter was picked up pro-Corbyn campaigners in an attempt to discredit the Board - but Mr Stern was attacked by leaders of the Strictly Orthodox community who said he did not speak for them.

The JC has attempted to contact Mr Stern about his appearance at the HMDT commemoration.

Labour last night instisted that had not set-up any photographs with Mr Corbyn and denied anyone had been dragged into pictures with him.


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