Labour MPs demand party sets up independent process for probing anti-semitism complaints
Labour MPs have demanded party bosses set up an independent complaints process for investigating anti-semitism accusations against members.
The move follows fresh allegations in the Sunday Times that staff in Jeremy Corbyn's office were directly involved in dealing with cases of alleged anti-Jewish racism.
A motion tabled at Monday night's meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party also demanded that officials publish their response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission's probe into how the party handles anti-semitism allegations.
It also called on the party to "make a public statement of solidarity with the Jewish Labour Movement following its 100th year of affiliation to the Labour party".
Labour MP Stella Creasy said the motion, which will be voted on at next week's PLP meeting, "offers a clear way forward for addressing all reports of harassment and abuse as well as suggestions for how transparency and solidarity could restore trust" in how the party treats the issue.
But in a defiant email to all members of the PLP, Labour general secretary Jennie Formby said the allegations in the Sunday Times of intereference by the leader's office were "categorically untrue" and insisted that "all complaints about anti-semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and appropriate disciplinary action taken".
Launching a bitter attack on MPs who criticise the party's officials in the media, she added: "We do not tolerate leaking of staff correspondence, party records, and we robustly dispute the claims of the article from which lines have been selectively leaked from emails to grossly misrepresent their overall contents.
"We regret that such material has found its way into the public domain. Selective and misrepresentative coverage through right-wing media which is politically hostile to the Labour Party does not aid the victims of abuse, the subjects of disciplinary procedures, or the wider party."
Ms Formby added: "The PLP will also be aware that the Unite LE/975 trade union branch of Labour Party staff has recently passed a motion which stated 'attacks on one or more members of staff are an attack on every member of staff as they put us all at risk of public criticism in the media and abuse on social media, without any public right of reply' and urged that 'Labour MPs must always respect and uphold the values and beliefs of the party, and must therefore never publicly attack party staff, either directly or indirectly, on or off the record'.
"I support that policy and hope the PLP can express it's support for staff and do so as well."
One Labour MP described the email as "idiocy" and added: "It’s all about MPs and nothing about the issue."
Ms Formby was also criticised over the email at Monday's PLP meeting, with backbencher Clive Efford saying her email "bears no resemblance to reality".