Britain’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn came under renewed pressure over anti-Semitism on Thursday after a string of former officials spoke out about the party’s failure to tackle discrimination in a BBC documentary.
Former officials, including the main opposition’s former general secretary Iain McNicol, broke non-disclosure agreements to allege that members of Corbyn’s inner circle had interfered with investigations into anti-Semitism in the left-wing party.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who has been critical of Corbyn, said the revelations were ‘harrowing’.
‘I am shocked, chilled and appalled by what I’ve just seen on ‘Panorama’,’ he tweeted.
‘There’s almost a permissive culture that people can use anti-Jewish, racist language both in our meetings and to each other on social media and we’ve failed to address that properly,’ Watson told BBC radio.
But a party spokesman said Labour was ‘taking decisive action to root out anti-Semitism from our movement and society’ and said the documentary was ‘an overtly biased intervention by the BBC in party political controversy’.
Nick Lowles, chief executive of the Hope Not Hate campaign group, said the BBC documentary showed interference by Labour officials in anti-Semitism investigations.
‘It showed the downplaying of serious allegations. It showed an appalling lack of understanding of the hurt, and fear, felt by Jewish party members and the wider Jewish community,’ he said.
The party has been shaken by accusations of anti-Semitism ever since Corbyn, a lifelong supporter of Palestinian causes, took over in 2015.
He insists he is not anti-Semitic and has pledged to ‘root out’ the problem which he recognises has ‘occurred in pockets’ within the party.
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