Labour disciplinary action 'veiled attempt to silence Dame Margaret Hodge', lawyers say

The Labour MP is being investigated after calling Jeremy Corbyn an 'antisemite and a racist' to his face


Dame Margaret Hodge's lawyers have accused Labour of a “veiled attempt to silence her” by warning of possible disciplinary action against her in the wake of her angry confrontation with Jeremy Corbyn.

The MP confronted the Labour leader, calling him an “antisemite and a racist”. She denied accusations in initial reports that she used the words "a f***ing antisemite".

The confrontation on Tuesday last week followed the refusal of Labour’s National Executive Committee to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, in favour of its own definition that omits key examples of how criticising Israel can be antisemitic.

On Monday, Dame Margaret revealed she received a notice of investigation into her conduct by party officials just 12 hours after the incident, which took place behind the Speaker’s chair in the House of Commons after MPs were voting on Brexit.

Writing on Monday to Jennie Formby, Labour’s General Secretary, Dame Margaret’s lawyers condemned the “hasty and ill-thought out” disciplinary action against her, saying it “defies recognised standard of due process”.

They added: “Your threat to suspend our client if she repeats this non-particularised conduct appears to be a veiled attempt to silence her.

“Again, it is a fundamental breach of natural justice and principles of fairness. You have left out client in the bizarre position whereby possible suspension is hanging over her for future unspecified behaviour.”

The party notified Dame Margaret that it was investigating her for an alleged breach of Rule 2.1.8 as outlined in its Party Rules. It is the same rule used against those accused of antisemitism.

In response, the Labour Party told the JC that it "takes all complaints extremely seriously. These are investigated in line with the party's rules and procedures."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dame Margaret said she would not quit the Labour Party over the issue, nor resign the whip, instead pledging to “fight from within”.

She added that, since the confrontation with Mr Corbyn, she has been targeted with online antisemitic abuse. A member of the public referred to her as a "Zionist b*tch" on a Facebook group supporting the Labour leader.

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