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Wed, 20 January 2021

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Member of Labour's ruling body calls for human rights body to be axed after anti-semitism probe launched

Member of Labour's ruling body calls for human rights body to be axed after anti-semitism probe launched
3 min read

A member of Labour's ruling body has called for a human rights body to be scrapped after it said the party may have discriminated against Jewish people.

Huda Elmi, who sits on Labour's national executive committee, said the Equality and Human Rights Commission "is a failed experiment".

Her comment, in a tweet, came just hours after the EHRC announced Labour may have "unlawfully discriminated" against people because of their religious beliefs.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the body said: "Having received a number of complaints regarding anti-semitism in the Labour party, we believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.

"Our concerns are sufficient for us to consider using our statutory enforcement powers. As set out in our enforcement policy, we are now engaging with the Labour party to give them an opportunity to respond."

A Labour spokesperson said: "We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC."

In her tweet, Ms Elmi said the EHRC should be disbanded and its work carried out by a number of different, publicly-funded bodies.



She later issued a clarification insisting others agreed with her stance, which she had set out in the past.

"There is desperate need for conversation about EHRC’s purpose & how to reform it (alongside the 2010 Equalities Act)," she tweeted.

"This is a view I’ve expressed before (especially in relation to EHRC’s failure to tackle Windrush). The current Govt’ has starved it of funding- a progressive equality agenda needs to have resources to give it teeth!!

"The Labour Party has said it will fully cooperate with the EHRC, and I completely support that approach. The more scrutiny on prejudice within politics and action to tackle it, the better. As I understand it, the EHRC haven't launched a formal investigation."

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson responded to the EHRC's actions by calling on Jennie Formby, the party's general secretary, to ensure the organisation had full access to all the relevant documentation.

He said: "I am deeply saddened to read that the EHRC feels there is sufficient evidence to investigate Labour for breaches of discrimination law. 

"“I have written to our general secretary to ask that the Labour party co-operates fully with the EHRC and that all relevant files and data should be retained so that investigators can form a clear picture of the processes and culture around Labour’s response to anti-semitism within our ranks.

"I would like to reassure Labour party members that we will do everything we can to drive out racism wherever it exists within our ranks."

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