Labour suspends four Wavertree CLP officers

Party also investigating officers in Hampstead and Kilburn, Liverpool Riverside, Reading and Hastings and Rye CLPs


Labour has suspended four members of the Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party after the JC revealed they had criticised their own MP as she tried to reach out to the local Jewish community.

The chair of the CLP, Nina Houghton, secretary Kevin Bean, women's officer Helen Dickson and BAME officer Hazuan Hashim were all suspended from the party on Friday pending investigations into their conduct.

A Labour spokesperson said the party treats "all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously."

The suspended members had signed a statement circulated to members criticising MP Paula Barker after she said she regretted the fact that her predecessor in Wavertree, the Jewish ex-MP Luciana Berger, had now left the party.

Ms Barker had written an article for the local Jewish Telegraph newspaper earlier this month in which she stated: "Luciana leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay."

Ms Berger had been Labour's Wavertree MP since 2010 but quit the party in February 2019, having repeatedly complained about bullying and antisemitism in the local party.

But writing for the Wavertree CLP Members Bulletin last week, the four now-suspended CLP officers said they were “deeply dismayed to be placed in the position of needing to correct the misleading impressions fostered by Paula’s article and, yet again, set the record straight about Ms Berger’s departure from our party.”

They accused Ms Barker of reiterating  an “inaccurate and factionally motivated position on antisemitism”.

They also wrote of their “disappointment and hurt” over Ms Barker’s position, accusing her of failing to mention Jewish critics of Israel in her article which they say “reflected the influence of a partial view that claims to speak for all Jewish people.”

The JC reported on the issuing of the statement by the four officials last Wednesday and also revealed how Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was ready to launch an investigation into the local party.

The following day a second statement appeared on Wavertree CLP's social media channels claiming that a majority of the local party's executive disagreed with the views of the four individuals who put their names to the statement.

But the individual who penned that second statement has subsequently come under sustained attack from hard-left party members both in Wavertree and neighbouring Liverpool Riverside CLP.
In an earlier August 2018 report the JC revealed how CLP chair Ms Houghton had spoken at a meeting organised by former Labour MP Chris Williamson in Liverpool which aimed to pile pressure on the city's then two Jewish MPs Ms Berger and Dame Louise Ellman.

Ms Houghton told the audience the two female MPs were not pro-women enough.

Meanwhile the JC has learned that Labour has also began investigating the activities of other problematic local parties.

An investigation has been launched into senior officials in Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party in north London after a 98 page report detailing allegations of antisemitism and bullying was submitted to the complaints department at the party headquarters.

The activities of members and officials connected to Liverpool Riverside, Reading and Hastings and Rye CLPs are also understood to be under investigation.

But a senior party source suggested Sir Keir and new General Secretary David Evans were waiting for the publication of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report into the party's handling of antisemitism before introducing widespread measures to deal with anti-Jewish racism within local branches.

A spokesperson added: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken.

"We cannot comment on individual cases."

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