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Margaret Hodge launches legal challenge to Labour attempt to discipline her in anti-Semitism row

Margaret Hodge launches legal challenge to Labour attempt to discipline her in anti-Semitism row

Liz Bates

3 min read

Lawyers acting for Margaret Hodge have accused Labour of trying to "silence her" by launching disciplinary action following her clash with Jeremy Corbyn.

Mrs Hodge called thhe Labour leader "an anti-Semitic racist" over the party’s refusal to fully accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

The veteran MP for Barking received a letter from Labour general secretary Jennie Formby within 12 hours of the incident occurring last Tuesday night informing her that she faced a party probe.

But in a strongly-worded rebuke, Mrs Hodge’s lawyers Mishcon de Reya have written to Labour accusing them of failing to properly explain what party rules she has broken and of not following the proper due process.

"The haste with which you sent your letter is reflected in the sloppiness of its contents, which defies recognised standards of due process relating to investigations," the letter says.

"Our client is deeply concerned that the "investigation" has been opened without thought and in an attempt to silence her.

"Unfortunately, the opening of the investigation into our client does raise questions of abuse of power by party leadership."

Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, Mrs Hodge insisted she stood by her remarks to Mr Corbyn, which she made behind the Speaker's chair in the House of Commons.

She said: "Within 12 hours of talking to Jeremy Corbyn face-to-face I received a disciplinary letter. Think how long it has taken for the Labour party to respond to any of the allegations of anti-Semitism.

"I always in the past disagreed with the people who have called him an anti-Semite but at the end of the day people have to be judged on what they do, and not on what they say.

"I stand by those remarks, and it’s with a real heavy heart. By refusing to adopt the definition, in full, of what anti-Semitism is, he’s put himself in the position that he’s perceived by many that he’s anti-Semitic."

At the weekend, Mr Corbyn said the confrontation had left him feeling "upset".

"But I am, as always, very calm and I always treat people with a great deal of respect,” he added.

"I don’t shout at people I just listen to what they have to say, and a complaint has been registered and that will have to be dealt with by the party but that is independent of me."

Meanwhile, senior Labour figures have rallied around Ms Hodge, with Labour's leader in the House of Lords Baroness Smith telling Westminster Hour last night that she shouldn’t be disciplined.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also called for the complaint to be either dropped or investigated quickly.

And shadow frontbencher Rebecca Long Bailey said that while nobody in the party should “engage in personal attacks”, it was acceptable for MPs to challenge the leadership's view.

A Labour party spokesperson said:  "The Labour party takes all complaints extremely seriously. These are investigated in line with the party's rules and procedures."

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