Labour peer Baroness Royall blasts party's anti-Semitism disciplinary verdict
A senior Labour peer has hit out at the party’s decision not to take action against two Oxford University students accused of anti-Semitism.
Baroness Royall also said the move "doesn't bode well" for the outcome of disciplinary proceedings against Ken Livingstone, who was suspended by Labour last year over comments he made about Adolf Hitler.
The senior peer - Labours former leader in the Lords - headed up a review last year into alleged cases of discrimination against Jewish students at the university’s Labour club.
Her investigation found there was a “cultural problem” which meant some Jewish members were uncomfortable attending meetings but concluded that there was no evidence that the club was “institutionally anti-Semitic”.
Two members of the club were subject to disciplinary procedures, but Labour’s disputes committee decided yesterday not to take further action - despite a recommendation by party bosses that they should be given warnings.
Baroness Royall today said that had confirmed the view that Labour does not “take anti-Semitism seriously”.
Speaking to Jewish News, she said: “I am deeply disappointed by the outcome and fear that it will further harm relations between the Jewish community and our party by confirming a widely held view that we do not take anti-Semitism seriously.
“It also doesn’t bode well for the outcome of the ongoing inquiry into Ken Livingstone’s behaviour.”
Mr Livingstone, the former mayor of London, was suspended after saying Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews".
Baroness Royall was asked to investigate claims, made by Oxford University’s Jewish society, that some Labour students sang offensive songs, used terms such as “Zio” and expressed support for Palestinian terror group Hamas’ assaults on Israeli civilians.
Alex Chalmers quit as co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, claiming some of its members “have some kind of problem with Jews".
Mr Chalmers said the party's decision to clear the students accused of anti-Semitism was "disappointing but unsurprising".
“It is entirely in line with the indifference, lack of transparency, and bad faith that has characterised the response of certain parts of the Labour leadership to claims of anti-Semitism,” he said.
The Union of Jewish Students said; "The party had an opportunity to put its values into practice, to demonstrate how seriously they take the issue of anti-Semitism and to show that Labour Clubs are welcome spaces for Jewish students, but they have failed miserably.
“They have let Jewish students down and in doing so, they have created an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism may thrive without fear of being challenged.
“We refuse to rest until action is taken, and we will be working with Jewish students at Oxford to explore further avenues to achieve this.”
Jeremy Newmark, chair of Jewish Labour Movement, told the Jewish News: “This decision rides roughshod over the concerns and experiences of our student members.
“They do not feel comfortable attending meetings of their own Labour club. This has been looked at by three inquiries and one investigation.
“The complainants have not heard from the party for nearly a year – even to inform them of this decision."