Diane Abbott: Gordon Brown and Lib Dems offered Shami Chakrabarti peerage before Jeremy Corbyn

Posted On: 
18th October 2016

Former prime minister Gordon Brown and the Liberal Democrats have both offered Shami Chakrabarti peerages in the past, it emerged today.

Diane Abbott said Ms Chakrabarti was being "smeared"
Credit: 
PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn sparked an immediate backlash when he appointed Ms Chakrabarti to the Lords, just weeks after she chaired an inquiry investigating anti-semitism within the Labour party.

The report was branded a "whitewash" by critics, and her subsequent appointment as Shadow Attorney General generated further criticism.

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But Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott hit back this morning, arguing Ms Chakrabarti was being “smeared”.

She said the former Liberty director's rejection of peerage offers in the past showed she had not been "bought".

“I know Shami. Shami has been offered peerages both by Gordon Brown and I believe by the Lib Dem leader," she told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

"If she could be bought for a peerage she would have been bought years ago."

Ms Abbott added: “She did a report that most people haven’t read which actually has some tough recommendations for the party. I think it’s extraordinary she is being smeared in this way."

Last night Ilford North MP Wes Streeting demanded Mr Corbyn explain exactly when Ms Chakrabarti was offered the peerage and put an end to allegations it was on the table prior to the anti-Semitism report.

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Mr Streeting said: "The Home Affairs Select Committee asked a series of questions to Shami Chakrabarti, who is now Shadow Attorney General, which went unanswered.

"Until those questions are properly answered we won't be able to draw a line under this and move forward. Those questions go to the heart of the independence of the Chakrabarti report but also her credibility as Shadow Attorney General."

MPs also raised concerns about the leader's response to a damning Home Affairs Select Committee report accusing him of creating a “safe space” for anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

Mr Streeting accused him of "pouring petrol on an already difficult situation" after the leader condemned the authors as having a "disproportionate" focus on Labour.

The MP said: "What the Labour party should have done is respond in an open minded way, look carefully at what the report says and then respond to the substance."

Baroness Chakrabarti defended her peerage in September, saying there was “nothing remotely transactional” about the report she produced.

She insisted Mr Corbyn was "not a corrupt man," adding: "I am not a corrupt woman."

She also revealed earlier this year that Mr Brown and his predecessor Tony Blair had, among others, tried to “woo” her while director of human rights group Liberty.