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Sat, 11 July 2020

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By Andrew McQuillan
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Anger as Labour says it won't probe candidate over role in group that advised anti-semitic members

Anger as Labour says it won't probe candidate over role in group that advised anti-semitic members
3 min read

Labour has said it will not investigate one of its Welsh election candidates over her role in a Facebook group that offered advice to members excluded from the party because of anti-semitism claims.


Maria Caroll, the party's Parliamentary candidate in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, had been facing calls to quit after the Mail on Sunday revealed that she had co-founded and run a private Facebook group called 'Labour Party Compliance: Suspensions Expulsions Rejections Co-Op'.

The group was set up to help members under internal investigation by the party, and Ms Carroll was listed as an administrator.

She is said to have provided advice to members including Labour's former Peterborough Council hopeful Alan Bull, who withdrew as a candidate after an outcry over a social media post which said "the murder of six million Jews is a hoax".

He also claimed that the Israeli intelligence agencies had arranged the murder of Princess Diana, and branded Tony Blair's government a "Mossad front".

But the BBC reports that Ms Carroll - who has said she did not see the posts in question - will not face an investigation by Labour and that she has not been accused of making anti-Semitic comments.

The move comes after a referral from Welsh Labour to the UK party, with Welsh Labour leader and first minister Mark Drakeford on Sunday saying the party had "acted immediately and referred these matters to the Governance and Legal Unit of the UK Labour Party for investigation".

"I have consistently made it clear that anti-semitism has no place in our party or in Wales," he added.

The decision not to launch a full investigation drew anger from the Labour Against Antisemitism campaign group, which worked with the Mail on Sunday on its story.

Spokesperson Fiona Sharpe branded it a "disgraceful" move.

"Ms Carroll, who was first reported by LAAS to Labour in 2017, was a core member of a secret Facebook group that dealt with some of the most horrendous anti-semitic content our researchers have ever witnessed," the campaigner said.

"She should have been auto-excluded, instead she will continue as a Labour parliamentary candidate for a party that is incapable of dealing with its seemingly perpetual anti-semitism crisis.

"We call on senior figures within Welsh Labour, including First Minister Mark Drakeford, to demand that a full investigation be carried out immediately and urge Ms Carroll to step down ahead of the General Election on 12 December."

In a statement posted to Twitter, Ms Carroll said she "never saw" the "horrific posts" mentioned in the story.

"These posts were not made in the Facebook group I was in and if I had seen them, I would have immediately condemned them and called them out," she said.

Ms Carroll added: "I’ve been an outspoken critic of anti-semitism in our party, including calling out anti-semitic abuse towards Luciana Berger and anti-semitism denialism within our party. I’ve been blocked by anti-semitic accounts as a result.

"I joined that group when left-wing members were being suspended from the Labour Party en masse to stop them voting in the 2016 Labour leadership election, for incidents such as retweeting [Green MP] Caroline Lucas.

"When I noticed the group begin to focus on anti-semitism I left it."

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