EXCL Labour launches investigation into councillor who 'compared Gaza to Auschwitz'
Labour has launched an investigation into one of the party's councillors after he posted comments on social media in which he appeared to compare Gaza to Auschwitz.
Sandwell Councillor John Edwards is facing the formal party probe after he was accused of making anti-semitic remarks by a Labour campaign group.
On Friday, Labour Against Antisemitism activist Saul Freeman flagged a series of tweets in which Mr Edwards railed against the party's adoption of the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance definition of anti-semitism, as well as dismissing criticism of former Labour MP Chris Williamson as a "smear".
In 2014, Mr Edwards also sent a tweet to then-Prime Minister David Cameron after he visited to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to pay his respects to victims of the Holocaust.
"When you leave Auschwitz @David_Cameron go to Gaza," Mr Edwards said.
Tweeting under the handle 'Nuddering', Mr Freeman said: "This poisonous tweet by a Lab councillor is a clear breach of the IHRA definition and seeks to draw a direct equivalence between the Holocaust & the Israel/Palestine conflict."
In 2017, the 40-year council veteran shared an article from pro-Corbyn group Jewish Voice for Labour which claimed an "outrageous smear campaign" had been launched against Derby MP Chris Williamson after he was criticised for saying there was "lies and dirty tricks" around the "anti-semitism smears".
Mr Williamson had the whip removed by party bosses in February while they carried out an investigation into a "pattern of behaviour" after he was recorded saying his party had been "too apologetic" over its anti-semitism problem.
And in 2018, Mr Edwards responded to an article in the Daily Mail by former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks about the party's problem with anti-semitism, saying: "This muppet has his pockets stuffed with £££ by a newspaper owned by tax-dodging off-shore billionaires with a history of supporting Adolph (sic) Hitler. And without blushing he writes crap like this."
A Labour source said the party had issued a formal notice of investigation over the comments.
Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, urged the party to expedite Mr Edwards' case so that he could be expelled "as quickly as possible".
"Labour Councillor John Edwards has reportedly promoted views which are antisemitism and which should have no place in British politics," he said.
"The body of evidence against him is damning and overwhelming. We therefore call for his immediate suspension by the Labour Party and hope that his case can be expedited so he can be expelled as quickly as possible."
A Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken."
Mr Edwards was approached for comment.
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