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Labour is too slow to expel antisemites, Keir Starmer says

Shadow Brexit Secretary says swifter action is necessary

    Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer
    Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer

    A senior Labour figure said there was frustration among its Shadow Cabinet that people were not being expelled more quickly in clear cases of antisemitism.

    Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary and a former Director of Public Prosecutions, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme on Wednesday morning there needed to be a way for the party to take “swift action”.

    “If it means people being expelled in clear cases much more quickly, that should happen,” he said.

    He said the Shadow Cabinet had devoted the whole of its meeting on Tuesday to the topic, following the release of figures of antisemitism cases by party general secretary Jennie Formby the day before.

    She revealed that 673 complaints of antisemitism against party members had been received since April 2018, resulting in 12 expulsions.

    But the accuracy of the figures have been challenged by Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who believes they are much higher.

    When asked if he agreed with Dame Margaret, Sir Keir said he was “not in a position to say”.

    But he defended Ms Formby's handling of complaints, saying that she had put in place "new processes" to examine them and taken "really good action on this".

    He also said he did not believe the Liverpool Wavertree constituency party should be suspended following the withdrawal of no-confidence motions against its MP Luciana Berger.

    When asked about the JC’s revelation that the local party chairman Dr Alex Scott-Samuel had regularly appeared on a current affairs programme broadcast by conspiracy theorist David Icke, Sir Keir replied, “I don’t know the details of that.”

    But Sir Keir said there was “strong support” for Ms Berger at Tuesday’s Shadow Cabinet.

    At the same meeting, Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson exchanged harsh words with Party chairman Ian Lavery - particularly over allegations of bullying and antisemitism against Ms Berger.

    At one point, Mr Watson told Mr Lavery: “I won’t be shouted down.”

    It came after Party Secretary Jennie Formby wrote a letter claiming that that criticism of the way antisemitism allegations were being handled was “distressing” for staff provoked further anger.

    MP Wes Streeting said: “I find it distressing Jewish members are leaving Labour while people who perpetrate abuse against them are told they can stay.”

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