Fresh Labour anti-Semitism row as left-wing QC to advise on party probe

Posted On: 
15th June 2018

Labour's Luciana Berger has said she has "no faith" in her party's attempts to tackle anti-Semitism amid concerns over a top lawyer who has been appointed to advise on disciplinary cases.

Luciana Berger speaks during a protest against anti-Semitism in the Labour party in Parliament Square in March
Credit: 
PA Images

The Liverpool Wavertree MP called on party bosses to “urgently review” a decision to hand human rights lawyer Gordon Nardell QC an advisory role as the Labour tackles a backlog of alleged anti-Semitism cases.

In a series of tweets, the backbencher revealed she has “no faith in the objectivity of the process” now that Mr Nardell has been appointed as in-house counsel.

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Ms Berger, who is Jewish, said she raised concerns with the party last month that the frontrunner to take on the task “was identifiably connected to organisations and individuals that seek to deny the antisemitism problem” but that they were ignored.

 

 

Her intervention follows a report by the Sun that Mr Nardell, who was reportedly a member of hard-left group Militant, was Facebook friends with or had met activists caught up in the scandal.

Ms Berger's claims mark the latest turn in Labour's anti-Semitism row, after a major protest in Parliament Square over the party's response to abuse took place in March.

The MP was also one of several from her party to speak out in the Commons about the anti-Jewish abuse they had received in recent months.

PoliticsHome revealed today that Mr Nardell will also head up a separate inquiry into sexual harassment within the party.

Responding to Ms Berger's tweets, a Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are absolutely committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.

"Any complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with our rules and procedures.

"Labour’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby has made it her first priority to speed up and strengthen our procedures and to develop a programme of political education to create deeper awareness and understanding about all forms of antisemitism."

Party sources meanwhile defended Mr Nardell as "an eminent and highly respected QC, who specialises in constitutional and human rights law".

They added: "Gordon Nardell is Jewish and has a long record of challenging and campaigning against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, and of championing equality and human rights."

A source said he would not be handling invidividual cases and instead would focus on giving confidential legal advice to the party.