Jeremy Corbyn has rejected claims he has made Labour a “refuge” for anti-Semites, amid renewed accusations the party has failed to deal with the issue.
Lawyers for the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) said 70 Labour staffers past and present have given sworn testimony into an official inquiry by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into anti-Semitism in the party.
According to a leaked copy of its submission to the inquiry, the JLM said Labour was “no longer a safe space” for Jewish people or those who stood up against anti-Semitism.
“Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, he has made the party a welcoming refuge for anti-Semites,” it said.
“He has done that in a number of ways including by publicly supporting anti-Semites and anti-Semitic tropes. The Labour Party is cast in his image.”
Asked about the claims during an election campaign visit to Peterborough, the Labour leader said: “I completely reject that.”
He said: “When I became leader of the party there were no processes in place to deal with anti-Semitism.
“We introduced an appeals procedure to deal with it and we introduced an education process, so that party members understood the hurt that can be caused by anti-Semitic remarks or anti-Semitic behaviour.
“I think we’ve got processes in place that have improved it a great deal.”
James Libson, a partner at the Mishcon de Reya law firm representing the JLM, said their submission included evidence of interference by the leader’s office in internal investigations into complaints of anti-Semitism.
“There are many, many outstanding complaints, many examples of interference and many examples of double standards in the way in which complaints are processed,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“There has been interference and that interference has unfortunately become institutional.
“Institutional in the sense that people affiliated with the leader’s office – and now in the actual unit that are investigating – and that at a more basic level, information is passing between the leader’s office and investigating unit.”
The EHRC announced in May that it was launching a formal investigation into the party after receiving a number of complaints relating to allegations of anti-Semitism.
Its remit is to determine whether unlawful acts have been committed by the party or its employees, and whether Labour responded to complaints in a “lawful, efficient and effective manner”.
It followed persistent complaints by Jewish groups that anti-Semitism had been allowed to flourish within the Labour ranks since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.
The leadership subsequently acknowledged that it was too slow to respond to the concerns, but insisted that new measures have been put in place to deal with complaints more effectively.
The issue erupted into the General Election campaign last week, when the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned that “a new poison sanctioned from the top” had taken root in the party, and questioned Mr Corbyn’s fitness for office.
The Labour leader faced further criticism after he repeatedly refused to apologise during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil – although he later did so during an appearance this week on ITV.