Labour MPs’ anger at Corbyn staffer’s role in anti-Semitism cases

Some Labour MPs have reacted angrily to the appointment of a staff member from Jeremy Corbyn’s office to the party unit dealing with complaints of anti-Semitism.

Following the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) at Westminster, MPs expressed concern that the move of Laura Murray – the daughter of long-standing Corbyn aide Andrew Murray – undermined the independence of the whole process.

Labour would not comment on the appointment, although a party source confirmed two junior staff members had been released from their roles in another part of the organisation to provide “administrative support on an interim basis” to the complaints team.

“This is standard procedure to reallocate resources from one part of the organisation when another part of the party comes under strain and requires additional staff support,” the source said.

“Ensuring complaints on anti-Semitism are processed quickly is an absolute priority for the party which is why these additional resources have been reallocated.”

It is understood that the role of the two staff members concerned is “purely administrative” and will not involve ruling on disciplinary matters.

However, the move was treated with deep suspicion by critics of Mr Corbyn’s handling of the issue anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks.

Following the PLP meeting, Louise Ellman, who is Jewish, said: “What are her credentials? Is it a political appointment. The problem – the party’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism – is a political one.

“I suspect that these are political friends who will find it virtually impossible to discipline someone they regard to be in their group.

“It puts a major question mark on whether people within the organisation understand the concerns that have been expressed, a question mark over the independence of the process.”

Ruth Smeeth, who is also Jewish, added: “I think it is extraordinary. I have made it very clear – and I’ve said publicly – this is a political will issue, it is not a process issue.

Labour
Dame Margaret Hodge says Labour needs to act on anti-Semitism (Yui Mok/PA)

“The leader’s office needs to get directly involved and own it and make it clear, or they have to stay well away from it and let process go on.

The meeting was briefed by general secretary Jennie Formby, who is in charge of the complaints process and who clashed publicly at the weekend with deputy leader Tom Watson over the way the issue of anti-Semitism was being dealt with.

However MPs said she had failed to address their concerns.

“Nothing has changed. We still aren’t any further on,” Ms Smeeth said.

Veteran MP Dame Margaret Hodge added: ”I have absolutely no trust in the current system.

“If we are serious about zero tolerance with anti-Semitism you need action.”

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