Jeremy Corbyn has fuelled the anti-Semitisim row engulfing his party by failing to turn up at a reception for Labour Friends of Israel.
The veteran left-winger sent a message to the event at party conference in Brighton last night saying he was too busy writing his conference speech.
But furious activists pointed out that he did manage to attend a reception hosted by a Labour-supporting newspaper.
Mr Corbyn is under fire following more revelations and accusations about anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks.
Jeremy Corbyn failed to turn up at the Labour Friends of Israel last night saying he was too busy, but did manage to make it to the Daily Mirror party
The Labour leader of Brighton Council has even warned the party will not be allowed back to the city unless Mr Corbyn vows to prevent a repeat of the vile abuse that blighted the conference this week.
The equality watchdog also intervened, telling Labour to do more to prove it is not a racist party.
Deputy leader Tom Watson pledged an investigation into how anti-Semites had been allowed to address the conference fringe and question whether the Holocaust had taken place. He described their claims as ‘disgusting’.
Mr Corbyn was forced to deny yesterday that Labour was the ‘nasty party’.
The Labour leader traditionally attends the Labour Friends of Israel gathering at conference.
But when he sent Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry in his place last night activists shouted ‘Where is he?’ and ‘Why isn’t he here?’
LFI chair Joan Ryan said: ‘We’re disappointed he couldn’t be with us this evening.’
Ms Thornberry claimed Mr Corbyn was not going to any receptions because he was preparing for his keynote speech to the Labour conference in Brighton today.
She said: ‘Just so that there’s no misunderstanding, Jeremy is not attending any of these receptions this evening because he has a big speech tomorrow …
‘But I also know there’s been a great deal of wrestling with Jeremy and Jeremy’s diary to ensure he doesn’t spend a whole evening going from one event to another.’
Mr Corbyn, pictured speaking at the Mirror party last night, is due to deliver his keynote speech to the conference in Brighton this afternoon
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry (pictured at the newspaper party last night) stood in for Mr Corbyn at the Labour Friends of Israel reception. Deputy leader Tom Watson (right) has pledged to crack down on anti-Semitism in the party
However, footage later emerged of Mr Corbyn speaking at a party thrown last night by the Daily Mirror.
In his statement read out to the LFI reception, Mr Corbyn said: ‘The next Labour government will ensure Britain leads the way in promoting dialogue between countries and peoples so that we see real advances towards peace, security and justice in the Middle East and across the world.
‘Labour will continue to campaign for peace through a two-state solution, a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable Palestinian state. I look forward to working with you all to achieve that together, enjoy the rest of the reception and conference.’
Unite chief Len McCluskey, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, told BBC Newsnight that anti-Semitism claims were being used to attack the Labour leader.
Israeli ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, who faced a protest outside the event, said: ‘To those who called for the expulsion of Zionists from the Labour party on Sunday, I ask: would you have expelled some of Labour’s greatest luminaries too? Would you have expelled Harold Wilson? Michael Foot?
‘The truth is Labour has historically stood in solidarity with the Jewish people in our struggle for freedom and security, just as Labour has stood in solidarity with the Jewish people in fighting anti-Semitism. So when some talked about the Jews being the chief financiers of the slave trade, we all here tonight know that this is not criticism of the Israeli government. This is not even about the Palestinians. This is clearly just an anti-Jewish bigotry.
‘Calling out anti-Semitism is not a dirty low down trick. Nor is it a smear. Calling out anti-Semitism is a fundamental duty of all of those who profess to oppose racism, intolerance and bigotry.’