Anti-semitism campaigners condemn Labour decision to re-admit Chris Williamson to party
Campaigners against anti-semitism have condemned Labour's decision to re-admit Chris Williamson to the party.
PoliticsHome revealed on Wednesday how a three-person panel had voted to lift the suspension imposed on the controversial Derby North MP, despite a recommendation from Labour staff that he be referred to the next stage of the party's disciplinary process.
Mr Williamson was placed under investigation by the party in February for "a pattern of behaviour" which had drawn criticism from Jewish groups, campaign organisations and Labour MPs.
In the most recent example, he had told a meeting of Sheffield Momentum that Labour had been "too apologetic" over its anti-semitism problem.
The panel, made up of three members of Labour's national executive panel, gave Mr Williamson a formal warning.
"He could face further, more severe, action if he repeats any similar comments or behaviour," said a party source.
But Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said the decision demonstrated why the party is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
He said: "Chris Williamson MP is an alleged antisemite who should have no business in any mainstream party.
"His case, including evidence of his apparent promotion of anti-Jewish prejudice going back years, should have led to his expulsion from the Labour party weeks ago.
"Instead he has been allowed to return with nothing worse than a figurative slap on the wrist - an outrageous outcome that brings the entire Labour movement into disrepute.
"The Labour party has long relinquished any claim to credibility on the issue of antisemitism, and today’s decision only underlines why the EHRC investigation is so vital."
Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: "How dare the Labour party deny it is institutionally racist against Jews when it decides to take no action against Chris Williamson.
"It seems the decision to let him off is because he represents a marginal seat and there might be a snap election. It’s good to know that a party of anti-racists, led by an avowed anti-racist decides it’s OK to ignore anti-Jewish racism if there’s a vote to be won."
Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish Labour MP, told PoliticsHome: "Chris Williamson has demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a period of many months seemingly seeking to intentionally undermine, marginalise and harass the British Jewish community and Jewish Labour party members, which has continually brought the Labour party into disrepute.
"The fact the the NEC disputes panel has today ignored the recommendations of Labour party staff to let him off with a slap on the wrist is simply appalling.
"It’s no surprise that the Labour party is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for institutionalised anti-Jewish hatred.
"I’m truly disgusted that he’s being readmitted to the Labour party. It’s yet another appalling day for the Labour party and makes it clear that the party really doesn’t care about anti-Jewish hate in our ranks at all."