Expelled Labour activist claims Corbyn does not think he did anything wrong

A Labour activist expelled from the party for verbally clashing with an MP has claimed Jeremy Corbyn did not believe he had done anything wrong.

Marc Wadsworth said he had received "behind the scenes" support from the Labour leader's office on the first day of his disciplinary hearing.

Mr Wadsworth's expulsion followed a hearing by Labour's disciplinary body which found his behaviour had been "grossly detrimental to the party".

But the veteran activist claimed that Mr Corbyn had told mutual friends that "he doesn't see that I did anything wrong".

Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of the anti-Semtism report with Baroness Chakrabarti (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of the anti-Semitism report with Baroness Chakrabarti (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He had accused Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth of "working hand in hand" with The Daily Telegraph during a tirade at the launch of the Chakrabarti report on anti-Semitism in 2016.

Mr Wadsworth hit out at the process used against him and claimed he had been made a scapegoat.

He said: "The first letter I got, cancelling my membership summarily, was based on an alleged verbal attack on a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party which was uncomradely, brought the party into disrepute and embarrassed the leader.

"Well, the leader has told mutual friends he wasn't embarrassed because he doesn't see that I did anything wrong."

Asked if Mr Corbyn's office had been supporting his case, Mr Wadsworth said: "When they called me on the first day of the hearing, they said to me that they had been working behind the scenes, that what I said wasn't anti-Semitic.

"But then you have to interpose that with the fact that Jeremy did have a bit of a go at me at the launch of the Chakrabarti report and said that perhaps I could have used kinder language."

Asked who from Mr Corbyn's team had been in touch with him on the first day of the hearing, Mr Wadsworth said: "I'm not going to get into names."

My statement on today's NCC decision: pic.twitter.com/EY7uyhjyh7

-- Ruth Smeeth MP (@RuthSmeeth) April 27, 2018

Mr Wadsworth said the claims against him changed from the "verbal attack" to one of "anti-Semitism under the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition, which the party apparently had adopted later on, after, and were applying retrospectively".

He claimed he had been the victim of a "purge" and said "some people have called it a kangaroo court".

Ms Smeeth said she was relieved that the "ordeal" was over.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ms Smeeth said: "Abuse, bullying and intimidation have no place in our movement, as today's announcement has proven.

"I hope that this decision represents the first step towards a return to the values of decency and respect throughout the Labour Party."

Dozens of Labour MPs had marched in support of Jewish colleague Ms Smeeth as she prepared to give evidence at Mr Wadsworth's disciplinary hearing this week.

But Mr Wadsworth accused the "gang of white MPs" of bullying behaviour, saying it was "a crude attempt to influence the outcome of my hearing, and it seems to have had an effect".

Labour MPs march in support of Ruth Smeeth (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Labour MPs march in support of Ruth Smeeth (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A Labour spokesman said: "The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) of the Labour Party has found that two charges of a breach of the Labour Party's rule 2.1.8 by Marc Wadsworth have been proven.

"The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for this breach of Labour Party rules will be expulsion from membership."

The decision on Mr Wadsworth came as Ken Livingstone - who is currently suspended from Labour over remarks linking Adolf Hitler and Zionism - told LBC rows over anti-Semitism in the party are a "complete diversion" in the run-up to the local elections.

Mr Livingstone avoided expulsion in April at a disciplinary hearing into his conduct but was suspended for a further year.

One of the flashpoints at a failed meeting between Jeremy Corbyn and Jewish leaders over anti-Semitism in Labour was the party's handling of the former MP's case.

The attempt to smooth relations with the community backfired for the Labour leader as leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) accused him of failing to back his words with action.

Labour anti-Semitism row
Ken Livingstone at Church House, Westminster, London, when he attended a disciplinary hearing over claims about his conduct (Lauren Hurley/PA)

But Unite union leader Len McCluskey voiced "disgust" at backbench Labour critics of Mr Corbyn, raising the prospect that those who have attacked him over issues such as anti-Semitism could face mandatory reselection.

Gillian Merron, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a former Labour MP, said the meeting with Mr Corbyn "did not go as well as hoped" but there had been "positive movement" in recent days.

Writing on the LabourList website, she said it was concerning when Labour MPs "show support to people who have been barred for anti-Semitism, as this suggests that what they are accused of is a small matter".

In a message to Mr Corbyn, she said: "If he is to show his seriousness about tackling this problem, Jeremy cannot continue to engage with anyone, Jewish or not, who seeks to obstruct efforts to tackle the problem."

Labour said 90 current cases of anti-Semitism are under investigation, making up around 0.02% of Labour's membership of around 500,000.

Over the past three years, a total of 300 complaints have been made over anti-Semitism, around half of which had led to people being expelled from or leaving the party.

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