EXCL Jeremy Corbyn attacked over anti-Semitism row activist at campaign event

Posted On: 
23rd August 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised after he posed for a photograph alongside a Labour activist suspended for alleged anti-Semitism at a leadership campaign event.

Jeremy Corbyn poses with a biscuit at last night's phone bank in Walthamstow
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader was pictured standing next to David Watson, who has been under investigation by party officials since May, at a phone bank in Walthamstow, east London.

He was suspended after referring to Zionism as a "racist ideology" and sharing articles on social media accusing Isil of using Israeli-made weapons and comparing Mossad to the Nazis.

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A picture appearing to show Mr Watson sitting behind Mr Corbyn was posted on the Labour leader's Twitter account last night, but has since been deleted.

But another image on the Waltham Forest Momentum page seems to show Mr Watson standing to Mr Corbyn's right.

Mr Watson also re-tweeted a post giving a clear hint that Mr Corbyn would be turning up at the phone bank.

Labour was hit by a wave of anti-Semitism controversies earlier this year, leading to more than a dozen suspensions and prompting Mr Corbyn to ask human rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti to lead an inquiry into the issue.

Her report, published in June, found that Labour "is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism". A row broke out earlier this month when it emerged that Mr Corbyn had nominated Ms Chakrabarti for a peerage.

PROBLEM

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, told PoliticsHome: "Coming so soon after bunging Shami Chakrabarti a peerage following her supposedly 'independent' inquiry, for Jeremy now to be rubbing shoulders with someone who's been suspended for anti-Semitism once again confirms that he has zero credibility when it comes to the issue of standing up to anti-Semitism.

"It's also clear that Momentum and the Corbyn leadership campaign do have an anti-Semitism problem."

A spokesman for the Jeremy for Labour campaign said: "Jeremy visited phone banks across London yesterday and met hundreds of Labour members who are giving up their time to support his campaign to continue as Labour leader, so we can rebuild and transform Britain, so that no one and no community is left behind.

"Jeremy is regularly asked for his photo to be taken by members of the public who he has only met for the first time and politely obliges if he can. Everyone in Labour wants more people to join our party and grow our movement, but those who join are not allowed to be members of any other party and they must support the values of the Labour party."

At the time of Mr Watson's suspension, the co-ordinating committee of Momentum Walthamstow Forest issued a statement describing him as "a long-standing socialist and anti-racism campaigner, well-known for his charitable and fundraising work for progressive causes".

The statement added: "He has worked with the Anne Frank project on Holocaust awareness and was part of a delegation with Jewish activists to Israel and Palestine. So forthright has he been in challenging anti-Semitism that he has himself been subject to anti-Semitic abuse."

Mr Watson was approached for comment, but had not responded by the time of publication.