‘An utter disgrace’: Fury as Labour MP and Corbyn ally Chris Williamson is let off with a warning after saying the party was ‘too apologetic’ about anti-Semitism claims
- He was suspended in February over comments at a Momentum meeting
- It is understood he was readmitted today after being given a formal warning
- Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge said the decision was ‘unbelievable’
Labour sparked fury today as anti-Semitism row MP Chris Williamson was allowed to skulk back into the party despite saying it had been ‘too apologetic’ over anti-Jewish abuse claims.
The Derby North MP was suspended in February after the opposition bowed to increasing fury to take action against the close friend and ally of Jeremy Corbyn over comments at a Momentum meeting.
It was lifted today after he was given a formal warning by a National Executive Committee (NEC) panel hearing in London.
Board of Deputies of British Jews vice president Amanda Bowman branded the decision it ‘an utter disgrace’.
‘Despite years of baiting the Jewish community – calling antisemitism allegations ”proxy wars and bullsh*t”, actively supporting people suspended and expelled from the party for antisemitism, attacking the Board of Deputies on the day of the Pittsburgh attack, and saying that Labour has been ”too apologetic” over antisemitism, Chris Williamson has reportedly been readmitted to the Labour Party.
‘This is yet more damning evidence for the EHRC’s inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour Party.’
Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson said that the decision was ‘shameful’.
The Derby North MP was suspended in February over comments at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield
Mr Williamson is a close friend and ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge said the decision to let him off lightly was ‘unbelievable’
Mr Williamson, 62, was forced to issue a grovelling apology in February after footage fromt he Sheffield event showed him saying that the party had been ‘too apologetic’ over anti-Jewish abuse claims.
Despite the internal probe having the power to ultimately kick him out of the party, a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn initially said he would not be suspended while it was carried out.
But after this prompted a wave of criticism he had the whip suspended.
Shamed Vaz backed him
Keith Vaz is said to have had a key role in the decision to re-admit Chris Williamson.
The disgraced MP, who faces a sleaze inquiry and a bullying probe, was on a Labour panel that over-ruled officials who advised further action against Mr Williamson. Sources said Mr Vaz, pictured, warned the suspension could risk the loss of his marginal Derby North seat. He was backed by Huda Elmi, a fellow member of Labour’s executive committee. MP George Howarth is said to have been the only one to back the officials.
A party source said: ‘An NEC panel, advised by an independent barrister, found Chris Williamson had breached the Party’s rules and gave him a formal sanction.
‘He could face further, more severe, action if he repeats any similar comments or behaviour.’
Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge said the decision to let him off lightly was ‘unbelievable’.
She said: ‘This shows that the complaints process is a complete sham.
‘This is not zero tolerance. This is letting your political pals back in and turning a blind eye to Jew-hate.
‘Every decent Labour Party member must challenge this.’
And Essex Labour MP Wes Streeting added: ‘The decision about whether the Labour whip is restored is a decision for Jeremy Corbyn.
‘Restoring the whip will be received as a punch in the stomach to many Jewish members who’ve stayed to fight anti-Semitism and will reinforce fears that he doesn’t take anti-Semitism seriously.’
Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: ‘The decision to reinstate him shows that the Labour Party’s leadership holds British Jews in contempt and demonstrates that the Equality and Human Rights Commission was right to act on our referral and open a full statutory investigation into Labour’s antisemitism crisis.’
Last month Labour faced one of the most shameful days in its history after a formal inquiry was launched into whether it has victimised Jews.
In a potentially explosive intervention, the equalities watchdog said it ‘suspects’ the party has committed ‘unlawful acts’ in its handling of the anti-Semitism crisis.
Only once before has the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a formal inquiry into a political party – and that was the far-Right BNP. The EHRC will investigate whether Mr Corbyn’s party has ‘unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish’ – and whether senior staff responded properly to anti-Semitism allegations against its members.
If Labour fails to accept its findings, it could be taken to court and be fined.
A Labour Party spokeswoman said: ‘The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are investigated in line with our rules and procedures.
‘We can’t comment on individual cases.’