The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched an investigation into whether the left-wing Labour Party “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”.
The body said it was launching an investigation under Section 20 of the Equalities Act 2006 after receiving “a number of complaints” and following preliminary investigations which have been ongoing since March, reports The Guardian.
The EHRC will determine if “unlawful acts have been committed by the Party and/or its employees and/or its agents” and will investigate into whether the Labour executive “responded to complaints of unlawful acts in a lawful, efficient and effective manner”. Breitbart Jerusalem reported in April that party leader Jeremy Corbyn privately admitted that some complaints of antisemitism had been “mislaid” or “ignored”.
The watchdog has the power to compel the party to hand over correspondence to investigators and to interview key figures in Labour. They cannot prosecute or issue fines but can make recommendations and can formulate action plans which can be enforced by law.
Investigators will also look into how the findings of the 2016 review by Shami Chakrabarti into antisemitism in the party were implemented. Jewish community leaders branded the review a “sham” and a “whitewash” after it claimed to have found no institutional anti-Jewish racism. Weeks after the report was released, Mr Corbyn recommended Chakrabarti be elevated to a peerage in the House of Lords.
Labour Selects MEP Candidate Who Dismissed Antisemitism as a ‘Blairite Smear’ https://t.co/wS3IsLNGjE
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 23, 2019
A spokesman for the party told Sky News on Tuesday: “We reject any suggestion that the Party does not handle antisemitism complaints fairly and robustly, or that the Party has acted unlawfully, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the EHRC.”
Luciana Berger MP, who left the Labour Party amidst its ongoing antisemitism scandals, told The Mirror of the decision by the EHRC: “For anyone who might look to play this down, the threshold to initiate this process is extremely high.
“That the Labour Party has even met the evidenciary threshold is damning.
“It should never have got to this — particularly for a political party which is supposed to pride itself on the values of equality and antiracism.”
Leaked Labour Anti-Semitism Dossier Leads to Three Arrests https://t.co/tcVezqWcQZ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 28, 2019
A recent poll revealed that more than half of Britons believe the Labour Party has a serious antisemitism problem, with 56 per cent saying they think Corbyn is unable or unwilling to tackle antisemitism within his own ranks.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed the investigation, with chairman Gideon Falter saying: “Labour has repeatedly failed to address its own antisemitism problem.”
“In just four chilling years, Jeremy Corbyn has turned the Party which pioneered anti-racism into the Party that now finds itself in the company of the BNP, being investigated by the very equality and human rights regulator it once fought so hard to establish,” Mr Falter added.