Labour expels activist Marc Wadsworth over clash with MP Ruth Smeeth
Labour activist Marc Wadsworth has been expelled from the party following a clash with MP Ruth Smeeth - as fellow MP Chris Williamson insisted he stood "four square" behind the campaigner.
Mr Wadsworth had been suspended by Labour since the 2016 row with Ms Smeeth at the launch of Shami Chakrabarti's report into anti-Semitism, where he accused the MP of “working hand in hand" with the Daily Telegraph to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.
Following a heated disciplinary hearing, a Labour party spokesperson said today: “The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) of the Labour Party has found that two charges of a breach of the Labour Party's rule 2.1.8 by Marc Wadsworth have been proven.
“The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for this breach of Labour Party rules will be expulsion from membership.”
Labour's Rule 2.1.8 says no member of the party should engage in conduct which "is prejudicial" or act in a way which is "grossly detrimental to the party".
Mr Wadsworth's disciplinary hearing proved to be a lightning rod in Labour's ongoing internal battle over anti-Semitism, with some MPs including Jess Phillips, Louise Ellman, Rachel Reeves, Margaret Hodge and Wes Streeting flanking Ms Smeeth as she arrived to give evidence in the face of protests.
But fellow Labour MPs Chris Williamson, Clive Lewis and Keith Vaz all rallied round Mr Wadsworth, giving evidence on his behalf.
Derby North MP Mr Williamson - who came under fire for his decision to give testimony - was today unrepentant in his support for the expelled Labour member, blasting the NCC for a "perverse determination".
"It flies in the face of the evidence that was presented and offends against the principles of natural justice," he said.
Mr Williamson added: "The NCC's decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour Party's record of standing up fairness.
"I will therefore continue to stand four-square behind Marc and assist him in his efforts to clear his name, and his reputation as a veteran anti-racist campaigner, which have been besmirched by this absurd NCC ruling."
Welcoming the expulsion, however, Ms Smeeth said she was "relieved" that the issue had been resolved "after nearly two years".
She added: "I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received throughout this ordeal from my friends and colleagues. I would also like to pay tribute to the hard work and professionalism of Labour Party staff who have had to deal with this case and many others, often in the face of vicious criticism.
"Abuse, bullying and intimidation have no place in our movement, as today's announcement has proven. I hope that this decision represents the first step towards a return to the values of decency and respect throughout the Labour Party."