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Mon, 28 September 2020

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EXCL Jewish and non-Jewish Labour staff demand party review Chris Williamson re-admission

EXCL Jewish and non-Jewish Labour staff demand party review Chris Williamson re-admission
3 min read

Labour staff have called on party bosses to review the decision to allow Chris Williamson back into the party, PoliticsHome can reveal.


In an unprecedented move, 70 Jewish and non-Jewish employees have so far signed a letter to Labour general secretary Jennie Formby saying they would be "made to feel unwelcome by his presence whilst at work" if it is not overturned.

PoliticsHome revealed on Wednesday that the controversial Derby North MP had been let off with a formal warning following an investigation into a "pattern" of allegedly anti-semitic behaviour.

The decision has sparked a furious backlash, with 90 Labour MPs and peers calling on Jeremy Corbyn to immediately remove the party whip from Mr Williamson.

The letter from party staff to Jennie Formby says: "We are writing to you as Jewish and non-Jewish members of staff to express our dismay at the decision to readmit Chris Williamson MP into the Labour party.

"He has a long pattern of anti-semitic behaviour and has shown contempt for the Jewish community on numerous occasions.

"We do not say this lightly: The decision to readmit Chris Williamson MP into the party will help to create an environment where Jewish and non-Jewish employees, who care deeply about fighting anti-semitism, are made to feel unwelcome by his presence whilst at work."

The letter then lists a number of incidents which have led to the MP being accused of anti-semitism.

They include his decision to sign and promote a peition supporting Gilad Atzmon, a musician accused of Holocaust denial who had been banned by Islington Council from performing a concert in the north London borough.

The letter went on: "Just one of the above should be reason enough to bar him from being a member of the Labour party. We are asking you to call for an immediate review of this decision, and take steps to implement a truly independent complaints process.

"One that all victims of racism, antisemitism, sexual harassment, and bullying can have genuine confidence in."

A Labour source said: "A red line has been crossed here and we can stay silent no longer."

In his first public comments on the matter, Jeremy Corbyn defended the Labour party's disciplinary procedures.

He said: "I wasn’t involved in the decision at all, it was an independent panel set up through the national executive, they examined the case and they’ve decided to let him back in, albeit with a reprimand.

"They went through the case, they interviewed him and they went through the case in great detail, and the three of them on the panel made that decision."

Mr Corbyn added: "We deal with anti-semitism very, very seriously, there is no place for anti-semitism in our society and obviously not in our party as well.

"Anyone that makes anti-semitic remarks can expect to be at the very least reprimanded and, if they are very serious and they engage in anti-Semitic activity, then they are expelled from the party."

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