Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Latest news
Main » Labour Party crisis: Senior staff 'interfered' in anti-Semitism cases claims BBC Panorama

Labour Party crisis: Senior staff 'interfered' in anti-Semitism cases claims BBC Panorama

11 July 2019

In the one-hour BBC Panorama special, senior Labour figures were accused of interfering with the disciplinary process - something Labour has denied.

The Party slammed the BBC's choice of producer, John Ware, as "unsuitable", noting that Ware's "record of public political hostility to Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership of the Labour Party, as well as a series of controversial articles and programs on the Muslim community, means he can not be regarded as fair or even-handed on British politics".

Labour has "a duty to do whatever is necessary" to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, says Sir Keir Starmer. "That is the wrong approach, we have got to be very, very open".

Former head of disputes Sam Matthews said he interpreted an email from Mr Milne as "not a helpful suggestion" but as "an instruction". "I think the BBC should investigate those and then we can come to a conclusion", he said. Based largely on information provided by eight former party members, the show has provoked a wave of indignation from Labour, which accused the BBC of violating its own "obligations of fairness, balance and political impartiality".

A BBC program probing anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has sparked a furious response from the party, which denounced the report and its producer, who directed an earlier program smearing party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as biased.

"Firstly, I would support a rule change that says you expel in clear cases of anti-Semitism automatically, just as we do for people who support another political party an election".

In response to the claims about Mr Milne, a Labour Party spokesperson said: "This allegation is false and malicious, and our response has been misrepresented by Panorama, throwing into doubt the extent and seriousness of their engagement with the Labour party's responses".

The party condemned the BBC documentary, broadcast Wednesday night, saying it contained "deliberate and malicious representations".

The spokesman said: "We stand in solidarity with Jewish people, and we're taking decisive action to root out anti-Semitism from our movement and society".

Ware, the Party claims, has "clearly and publicly already made up their mind on the issue of Labour and anti-Semitism".

A BBC spokesman said: "The programme adheres to the BBC's editorial guidelines". It alleged the former staffers who took part had "personal and political axes to grind".

"In line with those, the Labour Party has been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations".

A 2015 Panorama episode Ware produced on Corbyn made false claims and was widely denounced as a "hatchet job", while a 2005 program Ware produced about British Muslims was slammed as "McCarthyite" and "disgusting" - the latter by a former Panorama journalist.

Labour described the programme as "seriously inaccurate" and "politically one-sided".

"The emails... are simply about ensuring the NCC is held accountable for the length of time they take to hear cases and about protecting the party against any successful legal challenge on the basis of perceived bias if the same panel is used in high profile cases". The Panorama team instead pre-determined an answer to the question posed by the programme's title.

Corbyn - who has himself been accused of anti-Semitism - is under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the British government's watchdog on racism, for his handling of hate speech and hate crimes within the party. Since Jennie Formby became General Secretary the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased more than four-fold.

Imagine if they employed some of the most expensive lawyers in Britain to tackle the people responsible for racism and not the people exposing it.

Colleague Jess Phillips said on Twitter that the claims made in the program were "worse than I expected".

Labour Party crisis: Senior staff 'interfered' in anti-Semitism cases claims BBC Panorama