Jeremy Corbyn faces backlash for giving peerage to Shami Chakrabarti

Posted On: 
4th August 2016

The Chief Rabbi has hit out at Shami Chakrabarti’s elevation to the House of Lords as a Labour peer.

Shami Chakrabarti and Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of her report on anti-Semitism in Labour
PA Images

Ms Chakrabarti, the former director of Liberty, was the only pick of Jeremy Corbyn to be announced alongside David Cameron’s resignation appointments.

She recently conducted an inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour, which reported at the end of June and concluded the party was not overrun by hostility to Jews.

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It added that there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” in the party, however.

Ms Chakrabarti is the first person to have been nominated for a peerage by Mr Corbyn, who said she had the “right skills” to take on the Government.

But the independence of her inquiry has now been called into question by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

He said: “Shami Chakrabarti has a proud record of public service, but in accepting this peerage, the credibility of her report lies in tatters and the Labour party’s stated intention, to unequivocally tackle Antisemitism, remain woefully unrealised.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism also said the appointment undermined the validity of her report.

“If anybody still took Shami Chakrabarti’s report or Jeremy Corbyn’s declared opposition to antisemitism seriously, this must be the final straw,” said the charity’s director of communications Jonathan Sacerdoti.

“Having promised to never send anyone to the House of Lords, that is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn has done in return for a clean bill of health.”

Mr Corbyn had told Channel 4 News last year he saw “no case” for appointing new peers, while deputy leader Tom Watson this week urged the party to boycott new peerages.  

But tonight a spokesperson for the Labour leader hailed Ms Chakrabarti’s peerage.

“Shami Chakrabarti shares Jeremy’s ambition for reform of the House of Lords. Her career has been one of public service and human rights advocacy,” the spokesperson said.

“Her legal and campaigning skills, and the trust that she has gained from many ordinary Britons, will be a considerable asset to the House of Lords.

“Brexit will put many hard-fought rights at risk, so it is crucial that those equipped with the right skills are given the opportunity to hold this Government to account.”

Ms Chakrabarti herself added: “I am honoured to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge and the opportunity to help hold the Government to account.

“This is a dangerous moment for our country and we share vital human rights values that need defending more than ever before in my lifetime.”

The decision has been criticised by two Labour MPs.

John Mann told LBC it was “appalling”, while Wes Streeting added on Twitter: