Equalities watchdog to probe whether Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic
Independent equalities watchdogs have launched a probe to determine whether the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn is institutionally anti-semitic.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission said it believed the party may have "unlawfully discriminated" against people because of their religious beliefs.
Announcing the launch of the formal investigation, a spokesperson for the EHRC said: "Having received a number of complaints regarding antisemitism 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."
It comes after the Jewish Labour Movement handed a dossier to the EHRC last November of alleged cases of anti-semitism by Labour members.
The JLM - which last night voted to remain affiliated to the Labour party after fears it could break away - said it did not take the decision to demand the probe lightly.
"After years of anti-Jewish racism experienced by our members, and a long pattern of denial, obfuscation and inaction by those with the power and ability to do something about it, we felt there was little choice but to secure a fully independent inquiry, not encumbered by corrupted internal practices,” it said in a statement.
"Everything that has happened in the months since our referral supports our view that the Labour Party is now institutionally anti-semitic.”
In a message to the JLM ahead of its vote on affiliation, Mr Corbyn said: "I recognise the enormous distress caused to the Jewish community and, of course, to Jewish Labour members, when anti-semitic sentiments and tropes are repeated by members of our party.
"These concerns must not be denied or dismissed. It is not acceptable for an atmosphere of hostility or bigotry to arise in any corner of our movement."
The Campaign Against Anti-semitism also sent details to the equalities watchdog and asked it to investigate the party.
Last month eight Labour MPs quit the party to form the Independent Group - in party because of the way the party has handled its anti-semitism crisis.
A Labour spokesperson said: “We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC.
"Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations."