Jeremy Corbyn dismisses John McDonnell claim over anti-Semitic posts in Facebook group
Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed a claim by John McDonnell that he left a controversial Facebook group after seeing anti-Semitic content posted by other members.
A Labour probe has been launched into the Palestine Live group after it was alleged some posted anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and neo-Nazi material.
Mr Corbyn has said he was added to the group without his knowledge in 2013 or 2014, but says he left when he became Labour leader in 2015 without having seen any anti-Semitic posts.
But Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told a different story when he appeared on Sky News this morning.
“He was added, and then participated in some of the debate, then when he discovered there were some people in it who were expressing anti-Semitic views he immediately came out of that,” the Shadow Chancellor said.
But a source close to Mr Corbyn said Mr McDonnell's version of events was incorrect.
They insisted Mr Corbyn was not an active participant in the group and left it without seeing any anti-Semitic content.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Corbyn said: "I was joined on to that group without knowing it in probably about 2013/14. I removed myself from the group in 2015.
"I replied by Facebook message to a couple of things about a suggestion on the vote on recognising Palestine, which I supported, and inviting a doctor to speak at an event.
"I have never trawled through the whole group. I have never read all the messages on it. I have removed myself from it. Obviously, any anti-Semitic comment is wrong. Any anti-Semitism in any form is wrong."
Meanwhile, a former Chief Rabbi has said he will not sit down with Mr Corbyn unless Labour does more to tackle anti-Semitism.
Speaking to the Jewish News, he said: "I have to salute the political leaders with whom I worked because they were willing to put themselves absolutely on the line in the fight against anti-Semitism and all the other fights related to shechita, brit milah."
Asked what message he would give Mr Corbyn if he sat down with him, Lord Sacks said: “I would want to see clearer signs of resolute action by a party and its leader before I would even sit down with them full stop."
A Labour spokesman said: "Jeremy Corbyn and the whole Labour party condemns and campaigns against anti-Semitism in all its forms. We strengthened our rules last year to guarantee there is no place in Labour for prejudice or bigotry.
"Our party has deep roots in the Jewish community and is actively engaged with Jewish organisations across the country. We are campaigning to increase support and confidence in Labour among Jewish people in the UK."
Meanwhile, Labour MP Joan Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, has called on Mr Corbyn to apologise.
"I believe it is important that Labour members, activists, and the Jewish community hear a sincere and honest apology for your membership of the group".