A group of Labour MPs including a frontbench shadow minister have attended a parliamentary event organised by activists suspended from the party for alleged antisemitism.
Naz Shah, Chris Williamson, and Clive Lewis were pictured at the event alongside hard-left campaigners including Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, who are both awaiting party disciplinary hearings.
The session featured speakers who referred to “false charges of antisemitism” and a “purge” of supporters over alleged Jew-hatred.
The launch of the Grassroots Black Left (GBL) group in Westminster earlier this month was organised members of the Labour Against the Witchhunt group which claims allegations of Jew-hate are political smears aimed at harming Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.
One media report of the event quoted Hassan Ahmed, GBL co-chair, telling attendees: “Black party members, including GBL’s Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker, have faced suspensions in a witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn supporters, but we remain firm in our support for the Labour leader and his progressive politics.”
Writing in the Morning Star, Deborah Hobson, also a GBL co-chair, claimed: “Black party members, including disproportionately Muslims, have faced false charges of antisemitism yet the Chakrabarti Report told us that this form of prejudice is not rife in our party.
“Islamophobia and anti-black racism are much more prevalent but those twin evils have been ignored by Labour. We demand the party leadership publicly defend its supporters who have been purged.”
Ms Hobson and Mr Wadsworth joined a protest on Sunday in support of Tony Greenstein ahead of his expulsion from the party over abusive behaviour. Mr Greenstein also attended the GBL launch on February 8.
Glyn Secker, who captained a boat to Gaza in 2010 with the aim of breaking an Israeli naval blockade, spoke in his capacity as secretary of the Jewish Voices for Labour group.
Mr Lewis, who returned to Labour’s frontbench as Shadow Treasury Minister last month, and Ms Shah, who was herself suspended from the party over antisemitic comments in 2016 before admitting she was “ignorant” about Jew-hatred, both spoke at the event about experiences of racism and Islamophobia in their constituencies.
Last August, Mr Williamson, an ally of Mr Corbyn who was the then Shadow Fire Minister, was criticised after claiming criticism of Mr Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism allegations in the party were “smears” and “bulls***”.
Mr Wadsworth was suspended by Labour in 2016 after accusing Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth of collaborating with the Daily Telegraph. His hearing in front of Labour’s national constitutional committee (NCC) was postponed indefinitely last month.
Ms Walker, an executive member of GBL, has twice been suspended over claims of antisemitism. She referred to Jews as the “chief financiers of the slave trade” and was suspended but later reinstated. She was later suspended again following comments she made at a Jewish Labour Movement training session on tackling antisemitism.
Muhammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford, was invited to the event, as was Bradford East MP Imran Hussain, but it is not clear whether they attended.
The JC has approached the MPs who attended the meeting for comment.