Labour drops investigation into MP over behaviour amid anti-Semitism crisis
Labour has dropped an investigation into one of its own MPs over alleged abusive behaviour during the party’s anti-Semitism crisis.
Ian Austin confronted Labour chairman Ian Lavery amid a row over the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in July of this year.
The member for Dudley North MP released a statement this afternoon saying: “I make no apologies for being upset about anti-Semitism – I think every Labour Party member ought to be angry about racism and the failure to deal with it properly, but I did not scream abuse as was alleged, so I am pleased the Labour Party have dropped its threat to hold an investigation.
“Frankly, they should never have threatened this in the first place.
“The way this whole issue has been handled is unacceptable and the time it has taken is appalling.”
Mr Austin admitted getting involved in a “heated discussion” with Mr Lavery in the House of Commons.
The incident took place after he and several other Labour MPs were unhappy the party leadership did not accept the full list of examples of anti-Semitism attached to the IHRA code.
His colleague Dame Margaret Hodge is said to have branded the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn an “anti-Semite” and a “racist” over the decision.
She was also placed under investigation over the confrontation, but the probe was dropped in August.
The inquiry into Mr Austin was kept open but on Tuesday he said Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby had written to him saying the matter was closed and no further action will be taken against him.
The 53-year-old former local government minister said: “One of the reasons I joined the Labour Party as a teenager in Dudley 35 years ago was to fight racism.
“I believe that just as passionately now as I did then and I will not be deterred from speaking out about anti-Semitism and racism in the Labour Party.
“The Labour Party’s priority ought to be dealing with the outstanding cases of anti-Semitism and doing everything it can to win back the trust of the Jewish community, not investigating people like me for complaining about their failure to tackle anti-Semitism properly.”
In September the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed to adopt all of the 11 examples accompanying the IHRA definition.
But this came after the issue had dogged Labour and Mr Corbyn all summer, with protests and counter-protests on the subject.
The party leader had also come under heavy criticism over previous statements he made about Israel’s conduct.
In his letter, Mr Austin continued: “It is a good job they finally adopted the standard internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism and this must not now be reopened, rewritten or watered down.
“They still haven’t responded properly to the reasonable requests made by the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement back in the spring.
“Most of all, they need to boot people responsible for racism out of the Labour Party.”