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Sat, 30 May 2020

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Labour drops disciplinary action into Ian Austin following clash with Jeremy Corbyn

Labour drops disciplinary action into Ian Austin following clash with Jeremy Corbyn
2 min read

A disciplinary probe into a Labour MP accused of being abusive towards Jeremy Corbyn has been dropped.

Officials launched the investigation into backbencher Ian Austin after he was accused of "berating" Mr Corbyn and Labour chairman Ian Lavery over the party’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism.

The Dudley MP was informed in July by Labour general secretary Jennie Formby that a full inquiry had been launched into the allegations.

In response, Mr Austin's lawyers described the probe as "a farce and a disgrace".

They wrote: "It has plainly been designed to silence our client for his legitimate, honestly-held criticisms of Mr Corbyn’s failure to address the scourge of anti-Semitism in the Labour party."

The row erupted just a day after Labour dropped a similar probe into Margaret Hodge. She was investigated after telling Mr Corbyn to his face that he was “an anti-Semitic racist”.

Mr Austin revealed on Twitter that the investigation into his behavior had been dropped.

He said: "I make no apologies for being upset about anti-Semitism. I think every Labour party member ought to be angry about racism and the failure to deal with it properly, but I did not scream abuse as was alleged, so I am pleased the Labour party have dropped their threat to have an investigation.

"Frankly, they should never have threatened this in the first place. The way this whole issue has been handled is unacceptable and the time it has taken is appalling."

The MP - a long-standing critic of Mr Corbyn's leadership - added: "The Labour party's priority ought to be dealing with the outstanding cases of anti-Semitism and racism and doing everything it can to win back the trust of the Jewish community, not investigating people like me for complaining about their failure to tackle anti-Semitism properly."

A Labour source said Mr Austin had been given a "formal reprimand" by the party's chief whip.

"The chief whip made clear to him that shouting aggressively is not acceptable behaviour by a Labour MP," they said.

A Labour spokesperson said: "The Labour party takes all allegations of abusive behaviour extremely seriously. These are fully investigated in line with Party rules and procedures."


Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "Ian Austin should never have been subjected to this spurious investigation in the first place.

"It's a sad reflection on Labour's warped priorities that those who abuse Jews seem to get off scot free while those who fight anti-Semitism are investigated."

The Labour party has been approached for comment.

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