Livingstone lawyer under fire over Israel Tweet

Concern over social media post which claimed Labour MPs supporting Israel were “part of the problem”


The barrister who defended Ken Livingstone in last week’s hearing over his comments about Hitler and Zionism has been criticised after a tweet from his chambers account described MPs who support Israel as being “part of the problem”.

Michael Mansfield QC also advised Jeremy Corbyn during a legal challenge over the party’s leadership election last summer.

The comment was posted on the Mansfield Chambers account on the same day the JC revealed Labour Friends of Israel was launching a £1.35 million fund for co-existence and reconciliation projects between Israelis and Palestinians.

The tweet on October 26 last year read: “UK MPs support for Israel ignore the fact that they are part of the problem not the solution.”

The message, which has since been deleted along with the entire account but has been seen by the JC, included the hashtag #LFInot4peace — a reference to LFI’s announcement on the same day of the “For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace” initiative.

Angry moderate Labour MPs are understood to have included the tweet in a “dossier of bile”, outlining examples of hatred against Jews and the State of Israel since Ken Livingstone was first suspended from the party last April.

The barrister is known for making anti-Israel comments in the past. Ahead of last week’s hearing, Mr Livingstone, who was found guilty of three charges of bringing Labour into disrepute, said: “Michael Mansfield says there’s just no case against me, and can’t justify it.”

In a statement on Sunday, Mr Mansfield said: "I did not write this and was unaware of it. Until now there has been no feedback of any kind. The account has been closed down because my chambers has merged with another set. I personally do not engage with Twitter, nor any other form of social media for that matter, and I do not have a Twitter account myself. Tweets are often misleading no substitute for sensible debate.

"I am not aware of which Labour MPs are referred to and in any event I would not generalise in this way. Furthermore I would not wish to criticise a project of this kind unless there was a failure by its proponents to address the fundamental political legal and economic inequalities which continue to beset the Palestinian people."

Mr Livingstone now faces a second probe into his outbursts since he was first suspended from the party.

The Sun on Sunday revealed former party activist Andrew Lavery had made a formal complaint to police accusing the former Mayor of London of inciting racial hatred against Jews.

Scotland Yard confirmed it was investigating the complaint.

Labour will also launch a separate investigation into the workings of the party’s National Constitution Committee (NCC), its highest disciplinary body, after the JC revealed one member of the panel ruling on Mr Livingstone’s case was a member of a hard-left faction who had expressed pro-Palestinian views.

Party chiefs fear the departure of the long-serving Mike Creighton, Labour’s former director of audit and risk management, just weeks before the NCC held its hearing into Mr Livingstone left the disciplinary panel without an effective supervisor.

Following the hearing, Mr Creighton tweeted that he had “no idea” why the NCC had only suspended Mr Livingstone.

Last week the JC revealed Russell Cartwright was one of three NCC panel members who decided against expelling Mr Livingstone.

Moderate Labour MPs — including John Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, have now contacted Iain McNicol, Labour general secretary, to express “serious concerns” over Mr Cartwright’s presence on the NCC.

All members of the panel are told to reveal any past activities which may interfere with their ability to rule in a non-biased manner.

Mr Cartwright once edited a website featuring pro-Palestinian articles supporting a boycott of Israel — and is also a member of the far-left Campaign for Labour Democracy group who have previously supported both Mr Livingstone and leader Mr Corbyn.





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