JLM makes formal complaint about Labour NEC member who denied party had antisemitism crisis

Peter Willsman is now subject of two formal complaints over his conduct at last week's controversial meeting


The Jewish Labour Movement has lodged a formal complaint about comments a member of Labour's national executive committee (NEC) made when it adopted a code of conduct on antisemitism that outraged British Jews.

During last Tuesday’s NEC meeting, Pete Willsman made a series of controversial comments, including: "In 50 years I have never seen any antisemitism in the Labour Party. I met an Auschwitz survivor who said the same.”

Mr Willsman then asked for anyone in the room who had witnessed anti-Jewish conduct to raise their hands.

The NEC adopted its own code of conduct on antisemitism, rather than an internationally recognised alternative, without a vote at the meeting, which intensified the party's standoff with the Jewish community.

The JC understands that the JLM wrote to General Secretary Jennie Formby and to Labour’s governance and legal department to allege that Mr Willsman ignored recommendations in Shami Chakrabarti’s 2016 report which warn “any seasoned activist" who says they are "completely unaware" of antisemitism within the party "must be wholly insensitive or completely in denial”.

A JLM spokesperson confirmed that a formal letter was sent on Monday.

In a separate complaint, Michael Rubinstein, of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, called for Mr Willsman’s suspension from the NEC while comments of an allegedly “antisemitic and racist” nature were investigated.

His letter sent to the party said: "According to media reports, during the NEC discussion on the definition of antisemitism on Tuesday 17th July, NEC member Pete Willsman said: 'Some of the people in the Jewish community are Trump fanatics – I’ll take no lectures from them.’

"This comment by Pete Willsman is clearly antisemitic and racist and I expect the Labour Party to take swift action against this member. He should certainly be suspended from the NEC before he is able to influence any further policies related to racism.

“That these comments were made by someone charged with making decisions about how the Labour Party tackles antisemitism, makes the matter all the more serious.”

Mr Willsman is standing for re-election onto the NEC later this month as part of a slate of candidates backed by left-wing group Momentum that includes Jon Lansman and Claudia Webbe.

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