Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'permanent denial' of anti-Semitism after releasing statement on suspension

George Martin
·3 min read
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his house in North London ahead of the release of an anti-Semitism report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Corbyn was suspended from the party last month over his response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism within Labour. (Getty)

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of a “permanent denial” of anti-Semitism after he released a statement on Tuesday about his suspension from the Labour party.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Corbyn acknowledged that concerns around anti-Semitism in Labour were not "exaggerated" just weeks after being suspended for saying the problem was "dramatically overstated".

The former Labour leader had the whip withdrawn and was suspended from the party last month over his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report.

Following the statement on Tuesday, several MPs and public figures criticised Corbyn for issuing the “non-apology”.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Parliamentary Chair of JLM, Dame Margaret Hodge MP, attends a press conference on the findings of The Equality and Human Rights Commission into antisemitism in the Labour Party at the offices of Mischon de Raya on October 29, 2020 in London, England. The Equality And Human Rights Commission published its report into anti-semitism in the Labour Party under the rule of former leader, Jeremy Corbyn.  Corbyn was suspended after his response to the report. Labour said: "In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation." (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
Dame Margaret Hodge MP criticised Corbyn's statement. (Getty)

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, accused him of refusing to “take responsibility and apologise”.

Hodge tweeted: “In this statement there is neither a full apology or an acceptance of the findings & recommendations of the EHRC report.

“It was Corbyn that created this mess. Yet he still refuses to take responsibility and apologise. The seemingly permanent denial continues.”

Read more: Starmer: Corbyn 'knew exactly' that anti-Semitism comments would see him suspended

While the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl called on the Labour Party to reject Corbyn's "pathetic non-apology".

She said: "If the party wants to show it is serious about tackling anti-Jewish racism, it will consign this statement, just like the culture which led to the EHRC's damning findings, to the dustbin of history.

Watch: Corbyn takes back controversial anti-Semitism comments in statement

"To do otherwise would be a failure of leadership which would risk the party slipping backwards."

While Campaign Against Antisemitism chief executive Gideon Falter said: "Mr Corbyn's statement today seeks to recast his comments gaslighting the Jewish community when the EHRC's report into Labour anti-Semitism was released.

"This is a desperate attempt to have his suspension lifted and reveals that he still believes that suspensions are something that happen on the whim of the leader as it did during his tenure, and not as a result of any due process."

MPs and activists loyal to Corbyn have campaigned for him to be reinstated since his suspension.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that people who believed it was "exaggerated, or a factional attack" were "part of the problem" and "should be nowhere near the Labour Party either".

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) is set to meet on Tuesday to discuss Corbyn’s suspension.

An NEC panel will decide whether to take further disciplinary action or to lift his suspension.