Actress Maxine Peake believes Ken Livingstone's comments were not anti-Semitic


Actress Maxine Peake has insisted being "very pro-Palestine" does not make her anti-Semitic as she defended Jeremy Corbyn's response to the row engulfing Labour.

The former Shameless star, who is a prominent supporter of the Labour leader, said she does not believe Ken Livingstone's comments, which led to his suspension from the party, were anti-Semitic.

Peake, 41, said Corbyn had been "unflappable" amid "constant attacks" following the row, which has prompted Labour to launch an inquiry into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in its ranks.

Maxine Peake

She told the Press Association: "There are constant attacks on the Labour Party but I think he's holding his own.

"Support for him is still very strong. He appears unflappable. He's a man of the people and I think people can see the Tory attacks."

Livingstone was suspended from Labour on Thursday after saying Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s.

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone surrounded media outside Millbank in Westminster, London (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The former London major made the comments while defending Labour's Naz Shah over comments made on Facebook before she became an MP, including a suggestion that Israel should be moved to the United States. Shah later apologised and was suspended from the party.

Peake - who was speaking at the Brit Week gala in Los Angeles - said she does not believe Labour has an anti-Semitism problem.

"I don't think what Ken Livingstone's saying was (anti-Semitic)," she said. "I think there's certain issues you have to be very, very careful about.

Maxine Peake during filming of The Graham Norton Show

"I wouldn't support a party that was anti-Semitic. I've always been very open. I'm very pro-Palestine and anti the occupation but that doesn't make me anti-Semitic. Not at all.

"I think sometimes wires get crossed with people just wanting human rights for people rather than it being about another race and not liking them or not."

Israel's new ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, has said parts of the left are "in denial" about anti-Semitism and criticised Corbyn's links to groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.