Labour antisemitism report: key findings from EHRC inquiry as former party leader Jeremy Corbyn is suspended
Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party following the publishing of a damning report on anti-semitism in the party
A scathing report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that the Labour party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.
Then leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office has been accused of “interference” in the complaints process, acriticism which could fan the flames of the party’s bitter civil war over the handling of anti-Semitism during his time in charge.
Mr Corbyn has now been suspended from the party.
The EHRC’s interim chairwoman Caroline Waters said there had been “inexcusable” failures which “appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so”.
Mr Corbyn said he did not accept all the EHRC’s findings and insisted he had improved the process for handling anti-Semitism complaints.
The former leader also claimed the scale of the problem had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media”.
Jeremy Corbyn suspended
Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party after he made a statement on the report.
Mr Corbyn said: “The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose. Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy.
“But from 2018, (then general secretary) Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove anti-Semites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.”
In response to the EHRC report he said that “while I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period”.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.
“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
What are the report findings?
The EHRC identified serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing anti-Semitism and an inadequate process for handling anti-Semitism complaints.
The party is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to: political interference in complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism cases and harassment.
The EHRC found evidence of political interference in the complaints process, with 23 instances of inappropriate involvement by the Leader of the Opposition’s Office (LOTO) and others in the 70 files the watchdog looked at.
They included LOTO staff influencing decisions, including on suspensions or whether to investigate claims.
The EHRC found the situation to be indirectly discriminatory and unlawful as it put the person making the complaint at a disadvantage.
The watchdog found that the lack of training for people handling anti-Semitism complaints indirectly discriminated against Jewish members until August 2020, by which time Sir Keir Starmer was leader of the party.
The party has been served with an unlawful act notice and has been given until December 10 to draft an action plan to implement the report’s recommendations, which is legally enforceable by the courts if not fulfilled.
How has Sir Keir Starmer responded?
The EHRC’s lead investigator Alasdair Henderson said Mr Corbyn bears ultimate responsibility for the anti-Semitism failings.
Mr Henderson told a press conference that while blame could not be place on one person alone and the problem went beyond Mr Corbyn, “as leader of the party, and with evidence of political interference from within his office, he does have a responsibility ultimately for those failings”.
Sir Keir Starmer said that he was "truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused".
Addressing Jewish party members he said: "I know how hard these last few years have been, how painful today will be, and how hard you have to fight to hear your voices heard.
"I hear you, and I can promise you this: I will act. Never again will Labour let you down. Never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism and never again will we lose your trust.
"We will implement all recommendations, and we will implement them in full.”
Reacting to claims that the report has been exaggerated Sir Keir said: "If there are still those who think there is no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that it's all exaggerated, and it's a factional attack then frankly, you are part of the problem too and you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”
What is antisemitism?
Charity ADL defines anti-semitism as "the belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish.
“It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.”