Jeremy Corbyn says 'anti-Semitic' claims are 'beyond appalling'


Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has hit back at "disgusting" claims that he is anti-Semitic and denied he has links with a controversial Lebanese activist.

The left-winger's campaign to take the party's job has been surrounded in controversy over his dealings with extremists and suggestions that some of his supporters are peddling abuse against Jews on social media.

A furious Mr Corbyn insisted he had spent his life fighting all forms of racism and said suggestions he was anti-Semitic were "beyond appalling".

During a call-in with listeners on BBC Radio 4's World At One programme, he said: "The idea that I'm some kind of racist or anti-Semitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive.

"I have spent my life opposing racism. Until my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form."

Pressed to explain why he had called Palestinian militant group Hamas "friends" during a meeting in Parliament, Mr Corbyn insisted he had been trying to start a dialogue to help bring about peace in the Middle East.

He said: "I was in a meeting in the House of Commons for a very serious discussion about the opportunities for peace in the Middle East and I said to everyone in the room 'welcome to all our friends here, let's have a discussion'.

"I think the remark has been taken quite seriously out of context by a lot of people."

He added: "I used it as a diplomatic language in a meeting."

Photographs have emerged that appear to show Mr Corbyn with Lebanese extremist Dyab Abou Jahjah, who is reported to have told a Flemish magazine in 2004 that he considered "every dead American, British and Dutch soldier a victory".

But the Islington North MP denied knowing the controversial figure.

Asked if he had met Abou Jahjah, Mr Corbyn replied: "No. I saw the name this morning and I asked somebody 'who is he?'"

He added: "I'm sorry, I don't know who this person is."