Labour suspend Notts East CLP chair after Jewish member raises concern over 'horrific' meeting

Steve Lapsley, 50, a local Jewish constituent, said he tried to raise concerns but chair Louise Regan did not intervene


CARDIFF, WALES - APRIL 18: Louise Regan, president of the NUT listens as Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers makes his address to the annual NUT Conference in St David's Hall on April 18, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. During his speech, the NUT's general secretary, said the NUT will 'break' primary assessment unless Sats are changed and also pledged to 'make school funding' the centre of the recently declared snap election campaign. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The chair of Nottingham East constituency Labour Party (CLP) has been suspended after she pressed ahead with a motion in support of Jeremy Corbyn at an online meeting despite the atmosphere becoming so hostile that a Jewish member said he felt he had to leave.

Steve Lapsley, 50, a local Jewish constituent, said he tried to raise concerns about the discussion but that the chair Louise Regan did not stop it.

He said: “I have just left my CLP meeting after a man who abused me in front of witnesses was allowed to say without censure that he had never seen antisemitism in the party. The whole meeting is horrific.”

Multiple sources inside the meeting contacted the JC to confirm that the intimidating atmosphere. Local MP Nadia Whittome, previously a staunch supporter of Mr Corbyn, also intervened twice to condemn the decision to allow the motion to be heard.

Mr Lapsley has previously been on the left of the Labour Party and at times had clashed with some campaigners who attacked Mr Corbyn’s failure on antisemitism.

But he said the motions being tabled at local Labour meetings had created an increasingly hostile environment.

One new local member told the JC after Friday’s meeting: “I’m shocked at what I’ve just seen. It breaks my heart, actually.”

While another member described the meeting as “the least safe place” they had been in “for a long time.”

The chair of Nottingham East CLP  is an National Education Union official who, alongside her husband, Ivan Wels, are both supporters of the pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice For Labour group.

Ms Regan also attempted to stand as Labour's parliamentary candidate at the last election - but was left off of the eventual candidate short list.

Another JVL member of the local party was alleged to have later suggested at Friday's meeting that Mr Lapsley was to blame himself for his unease with way the meeting progressed.

Labour confirmed Ms Regan had been suspended by the party pending an investigation on Friday night.

Another local member praised the actions of MP Ms Whittome, saying she believed this was a time to focus on rebuilding trust with Jewish communities and urging the chair to intervene when Jewish members came under attack.

The MP later released a statement on Twitter stating: “I am disappointed that a motion that was clearly out of order made its way on to the agenda.

"I take the EHRC report into Labour antisemitism very seriously, as should all our members, given the pain caused to Jewish communities and that the report found the Labour Party to have broken the law."

The MP added she objected to the motion, but was overruled by the chair. She also said the "atmosphere and tone" was "wholly unacceptable".

Supporters of Ms Regan later released a statement claiming Friday's meeting had passed without problems except with one speaker they described as a "notable exception."

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken.”

In a statement Ms Regan said she was "deeply disappointed" at the decision to suspend her and added she rejected allegations of inappropriste conduct against her.

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