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Labour hearing into activist who challenged Jewish MP postponed indefinitely

Marc Wadsworth is one of the most high-profile cases put before the party’s national constitutional committee (NCC).

    Marc Wadsworth seen speaking at the launch of a report into Labour antisemitism
    Marc Wadsworth seen speaking at the launch of a report into Labour antisemitism (YouTube)

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    A disciplinary hearing into the actions of a prominent Labour Party activist suspended over allegations of antisemitism has been postponed indefinitely, the JC can reveal.

    Marc Wadsworth is one of the most high-profile cases put before the party’s national constitutional committee (NCC).

    He was suspended in 2016 after accusing Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth of collaborating with the Daily Telegraph.

    His challenging of the MP, at the June launch event of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into Jew-hatred in Labour, caused outrage among moderate party members and the Jewish community.

    The Jewish Labour Movement complained to Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday that disciplinary cases were taking too long to be concluded.

    In an interview with the Guardian today, Mr Corbyn said the priority was for allegations of antisemitism to be dealt with thoroughly and quickly.

    “Essentially what I want is an atmosphere in the party where we deal with issues in an open and friendly manner,” he told the newspaper.

    Mr Wadsworth’s hearing had been due to take place on Wednesday next week, January 24. But it has now been delayed. The JC understands it has been put back partly for legal reasons.

    At the June 2016 event, Mr Corbyn was filmed laughing and joking with Mr Wadsworth after Ms Smeeth had fled the room and been reduced to tears.

    Video footage taken at the event showed the two men together and appeared to show Mr Wadsworth telling Mr Corbyn: “Mr Wadsworth replies: “I outed Smeeth, bloody talking to the Torygraph.”

    Mr Corbyn did not respond but later appeared to say: “I sent you a text.”

    Following the furore, Mr Wadsworth later said he had no idea Ms Smeeth was Jewish.

    He has previously described himself as a “citizen journalist, editor, author, contemporary historian and events manager”.

    Members of the Labour Against the Witchhunt group, which says it defends supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who have been “expelled or suspended on bogus charges of antisemitism”, have said they intend to picket the NCC meeting during Mr Wadsworth’s hearing.

    Mr Wadsworth’s hearing is now not expected to take place before late February or early March but no date has yet been set.

    Earlier this week, Jewish sources in Westminster warned that changes to the party’s hierarchy could “stifle” investigations into antisemitism allegations.

    On Monday, Jon Lansman, the founder of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum organisation, was elected to Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) along with two other Momentum-backed activists, Yasmine Dar and Rachel Garnham.

    The following day, the NEC voted by 22 to 15 to remove Ann Black, the widely respected chair of the party’s disputes panel - which investigates antisemitism cases, sexual harassment allegations and disciplinary breaches.

    She was replaced by veteran hard-left activist Christine Shawcroft.

    The Labour Party said it could not comment on individual cases.

    The JC understands that as part of the party's procedures on such cases, both the complainant and the subject of the complaint can request more time to make representations. This makes the timing of the case "flexible".  

    At a Redbridge Council meeting on Thursday evening, Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, said the party's failure to tackle antisemitism was "abysmal".

    Mr Streeting said: "It has led to a crisis of confidence in the Labour Party by people who have been our lifelong supporters. We say we have zero-tolerance to antisemitism, yet hundreds of reported cases remain unaddressed.

    "People like Ken Livingstone have been allowed to abuse the history of the Holocaust to cause gratuitous offence and remain in the Labour Party.

    "Those of us who call out antisemitism are accused of 'weaponising antisemitism' by an MP subsequently rewarded with shadow ministerial office - sacked only because of his comments about our tax policy. 

    "Bystanders are complicit by their silence, which is why I will continue to speak up."

    Mr Streeting, who is also a councillor on the Redbridge authority, said he was "proud" council colleagues had adopted the IHRA antisemitism definition at the meeting.

    This article has been amended to update the text and headline

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