Diane Abbott sent Observer letter twice, raising doubts over 'draft' claims

Identical wording was sent on two occasions, hours apart, from MP's own email address


Labour Party Shadow Home Sedretary Diane Abbott walks through the Central Lobby back to the House of Commons after the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament in London on October 14, 2019. - In an elaborate ceremony in parliament in London the Queen set out the government's legislative programme for the coming year, with leaving the EU top of the agenda. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / various sources / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Diane Abbott’s “antisemitic” letter was sent to the Observer twice from the MP’s own email account a week before it was published, the JC can reveal, raising new questions about her claims that it was just a “draft”.

The letter was identical each time it was sent, three hours apart, and the suspended Labour MP made no efforts to revise it in the seven days after it was sent.

The fact that it was sent from her own email address – not from one controlled by an aide – suggests that she was entirely in control of the process.

The first time the email was sent, the JC understands, Abbott received an automatic reply asking her to send it again but this time with the addition of a postal address. She did this, leaving the text of the letter unchanged.

The disclosure casts doubt on her statement issued on Sunday morning, shortly after the letter was published. In this she said that the letter was an “initial draft” sent in error, that she wished to disassociate herself from its contents, and recognised that Jews do suffer from “appalling” racism.

It also suggests she composed the letter shortly after reading the Observer article by Tomiwa Owolade to which she was reacting. Owolade wrote that “Jewish, Irish and traveller all suffer from racism”, but Abbott’s letter denied this, insisting they experienced only “prejudice” akin to that endured by white people with “points of difference”, such as having red hair.

The revelation that Abbott sent the same letter twice will add to the pressure on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer not to allow Abbott to stand again for the party in her Hackney North constituency, which includes the Charedi community of Stamford Hill, the largest in Europe. Home Office statistics published last year also show Jews are five times more likely to suffer hate crimes than any other religious group.

On Monday, the Labour leader said he “utterly condemned” Abbott’s remarks, which in his view were “antisemitic”.

The Labour whip had already been withdrawn from Abbott, and she now faces a party inquiry that may last for months.

Diane Abbott has been approached for comment.

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