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Baroness Royall report reveals Oxford Labour students engaged in antisemitism

    The JC has obtained Baroness Royall’s full report into allegations of antisemitism among Labour-supporting students at Oxford University.

    It finds that members of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) did engage in antisemitic acts.

    "There have been some incidents of antisemitic behaviour," Baroness Royall writes.

    "Some Jewish members do not feel comfortable attending the [OULC] meetings, let alone participating," she added.

    Baroness Royall said some of the antisemitic activity members engaged in was conducted outside the group's structure, potentially limiting OULC's scope to act.

    But she adds: "I regret that the incidences of antisemitism were not reported to any authority, including the Labour Party, as soon as the allegations were made. In some cases this makes it very difficult to verify."

    The Labour peer’s report had previously been suppressed by Labour’s National Executive Committee.

    Baroness Royall said she had "no doubt" the report would "be a great disappointment to the Jewish community for which I have a very high regard.

    "However, as it was adopted by the NEC we should be able to ensure that each and every one of the recommendations is implemented and, in doing so, we should be able to bring about the necessary change in culture.

    "Throughout the process of my enquiry I met many very fine people and I look forward to a continuing relationship with them as we work together to deal with the scourge of antisemitism wherever it is found."

    During her investigation Baroness Royall received 300 pages of evidence from more than 40 OULC members. She interviewed eight group members and "offered interviews to a number of others which were not taken up".

    Writing about the allegations of Jew-hate against OULC members, Baroness Royall said: "It is clear to me from the weight of witnessed allegations received that there have been some incidents of antisemitic behaviour and that it is appropriate for the disciplinary procedures of our Party to be invoked.

    "However, it is not clear to me to what extent this behaviour constituted intentional or deliberate acts of antisemitism. This is particularly true of historic hearsay evidence.

    "Whilst I want to see the Party deal with acts of antisemitism, I see no value in pursuing disciplinary cases against students who may be better advised as to their conduct and who would benefit from training on these issues."

    The report adds: "Many students reported that should a Jewish student preface a remark 'as a Jew…' they are likely to face ridicule and behaviour that would not be acceptable for someone saying 'as a woman...' or 'as an Afro-Caribbean…'.

    "This behaviour is also reported within the wider community."

    A Labour spokeswoman said today: "The NEC formally accepted the Baroness Royall’s report earlier this year.

    “All 11 of the recommendations in the report were published and are currently being acted on.”

    The JC understands the party will not comment further on the leaked document.

    But John Trickett MP, Shadow Business Secretary and a member of Labour's NEC, said: "Baroness Royall’s report has made a significant contribution to helping the Labour Party develop and implement the internal policies to make sure that as a party we respect the culture and traditions of everyone who wants to be involved in our party.

    "I know that Shami Chakrabarti found the work that Baroness Royall did on behalf of the Labour Party immensely useful and that much of her work was integrated into the Chakrabarti Report that has been fully accepted by the Labour Party.

    "It’s now time for the Labour Party to deliver on the recommendations of both Baroness Royall and Shami Chakrabarti - I have every confidence the Labour Party will."

    Jennifer Gerber, Labour Friends of Israel director, said the group was “dismayed if unsurprised to see the anti-Zionist, antisemitic nature of much of the abuse disclosed in the report.

    “Now the allegations of antisemitism have been proven to have taken place, it’s absolutely vital that the Labour Party takes swift action to ensure that those responsible face the appropriate disciplinary action.

    “There must be no more cover-ups so the Jewish community can see Labour is responding to antisemitism with deeds, not just words.”

    Oxford University Jewish Society said: "The report finally confirms that antisemitic incidents did take place.

    "We hope that Labour's disciplinary procedures will finally lead to justice for Oxford's victims of antisemitic abuse.

    "We are concerned by the Labour Party NEC's decision to suppress the section of the report where Baroness Royall confirmed that antisemitic incidents had taken place.

    "We are also concerned that it has taken nearly six months, and Baroness Royall's own decision to publish her report, to get to this point. This raises serious doubts regarding Labour's sincerity in tackling antisemitism within its ranks.

    "It is essential that disciplinary proceedings are now conducted with the highest level of transparency."

    Josh Nagli, Union of Jewish Students' campaign director, said: "We welcome the publishing in full of Baroness Royall's report into antisemitism within the OULC.

    "Despite the clear acknowledgement of antisemitic incidents occurring within OULC, it remains a concern that they haven't been appropriately addressed as part of the Labour Party's disciplinary procedures.

    "We appreciate the publishing of the report in full and the time and effort Baroness Royall dedicated to the report, but many Jewish students at Oxford are likely to be disappointed.

    "The report does not reveal much that wasn't already thought to be the case. This raises questions as to why the report was initially suppressed, and we believe it is vital that there is full transparency as to why this happened.

    "This raises questions as to why the report was initially suppressed, and we believe it is vital that there is full transparency as to why this happened."

    Marie van der Zyl, Board of Deputies vice-president, said: “We have long called for the release of this report. Questions will continue as to why this document had to emerge as a leak rather than be published by the party itself.

    “We hope that these incidents, first reported in February, will be swiftly investigated, and that justice will be both done and be seen to be done to send a clear message about where Labour stands on this issue.

    “Antisemitism is simply unacceptable whether on campus, in our politics, or anywhere in our society.”

    The Labour Students group said it also welcomed Baroness Royall's findings and added: "While the circumstances that brought about both the Royall and Chakrabarti inquiries were deeply challenging, we believe that both reports represent an opportunity to renew our commitment to fighting antisemitism."

    Paul Charney, Zionist Federation chairman, said: “Despite the brevity of her report, Baroness Royall’s investigation is noteworthy for openly and honestly acknowledging the nexus between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, which lies at the heart of contemporary anti-Jewish prejudice.

    “That her findings were suppressed by Labour’s leadership will once again raise questions about the party’s desire to tackle this issue.”

    Earlier this year Jewish students at the university claimed members of OULC had backed Hamas terrorists’ efforts to kill Jews, sang about rockets over Tel Aviv, and discussed “an international Jewish conspiracy”.

    Baroness Royall’s full findings were first passed to the NEC in May, but the committee refused to publish them, at that time releasing only her 11 recommendations.

    She advised against life bans for members found to be guilty of antisemitism, and found that while OULC was not institutionally antisemitic, it faced “difficulties” which must be addressed.

    It was thought the full publication of her report would be included in Shami Chakrabarti's wider investigation into antisemitism in Labour, but Ms Chakrabarti's own report did not mention Baroness Royall's work, despite the peer being a vice-chair of the latter enquiry.

    The peer was appointed to lead the investigation in February after Alex Chalmers resigned as OULC co-chair and claimed his fellow students in the group had “some kind of problem with Jews”.

    Mr Chalmers said he was leaving the "poisonous" OULC after it endorsed Israel Apartheid Week.

    Today Mr Chalmers told the JC he was "disappointed" Baroness Royall's report had not gone into more detail about the "problem" at the club.

    He said: "More troubling has been the attitude of the party leadership, which has been an obstacle to transparency at seemingly every turn, suppressing the initial Labour Students investigation, blocking the publication of Baroness Royall’s report, and instead going ahead with the Chakrabarti Inquiry, which was characterised by a lack of focus and banal recommendations.

    "This lack of transparency has undoubtedly fuelled the abuse faced by many of those discussing antisemitism, who have found themselves denounced as liars or Zionist stooges.

    "The Labour Students group ran an initial investigation into the allegations and passed the details to the party, triggering the setting up of the Royall Inquiry."

    Liron Velleman, of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “Both Baroness Royall and Shami Chakrabarti have now concluded that significant changes need to happen both to the rules and practices of the party, in order that allegations of antisemitsm and racism are dealt with properly.

    "JLM alongside a number of local parties have proposed a rule change for Labour Party Conference that would make antisemitism, racism and other forms of discrimination a disciplinary offence. The NEC now needs to urgently clarify how it intends on implementing the recommendations from both reports, and to take a position on our proposals.

    "We are not giving up on the Party, and we hope the Party will not give up on us."

    Read the full report here

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