Labour peer warns there 'may be thousands' of unresolved anti-Semitism cases in the party

Former shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London where Labour's ruling body is challenging a High Court decision allowing new party members to vote in the forthcoming leadership election.
Lord Falconer said there are "hundreds, maybe thousands" of unresolved cases within the party. (PA)

There have been “hundreds maybe thousands” of cases of anti-Semitism within Labour that need to be investigated, a party grandee said today.

Lord Falconer, a former cabinet minister and current Labour peer, said he supported the Chief Rabbi’s claim earlier on Tuesday that Labour had a serious problem with anti-Semitism.

“We deserved an attack that strong,” he told the BBC’s World at One programme, “We need to deal with anti-Semitism properly.”

“We are still not dealing with the cases within the party.”

Lord Falconer who had been due to lead an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party until an independent probe was announced said there “hundreds, maybe thousands” of cases which need to be investigated.

"I will vote Labour - but on the basis that Labour has got to deal with it's anti-Semitism problem,” he added.

“I hope that the Chief Rabbi's absolutely extraordinary, but justified, intervention will be listened to by my party."

The Chief Rabbi had earlier warned that the “overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Labour Party win at the upcoming general election.

Ephraim Mirvis said a “new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party”.

He dismissed Labour’s claim it had investigated all cases of anti-Semitism within the party as a “mendacious fiction”.

It comes a day after former Labour Party MP Chuka Umunna accused leader Jeremy Corbyn of racism.

Mr Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, warned that “the very soul of our nation is at stake” in the general election on December 12.

He was backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who said his intervention reflected the alarm felt by many in the Jewish community.

He tweeted: "That the Chief Rabbi should be compelled to make such an unprecedented statement at this time ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews.”

Writing in The Times, Mr Mirvis warned that the Labour leadership's handling of anti-Semitism was "incompatible" with British values.

Labour defended Mr Corbyn as a "lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism" ahead of the party launching its race and faith manifesto.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury talks at a debate on social inequality at the annual CBI conference on November 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has backed the Chief Rabbi (Picture: Getty)

But Mr Mirvis wrote that Mr Corbyn’s supporters have "hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism".

He wrote: "The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud - of dignity and respect for all people.

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“When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake."

Mr Mirvis said: “The claims that the party is ‘doing everything’ it reasonably can to tackle anti-Jewish racism and that it has ‘investigated every single case’, are a mendacious fiction.

“According to the Jewish Labour Movement, there are at least 130 outstanding cases before the party, some dating back years, and thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for his handling of anti-Semitism within his party (Picture: AFP/Getty)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for his handling of anti-Semitism within his party (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Labour responded by describing the 130 figure as “inaccurate” and said it was “categorically untrue” to suggest there are thousands of outstanding cases.

It said: "Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism and has made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society and that no one who engages in it does so in his name.”

But the party has been dogged by accusations of failing to tackle complaints quickly enough since Mr Corbyn took charge and numerous MPs have quit the party over the issue.

A BBC Panorama investigation broadcast in July claimed senior Labour figures tried to cover up anti-Semitism.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned the "very soul of our nation is at stake" (Picture: PA/Getty)
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned the "very soul of our nation is at stake" (Picture: PA/Getty)

Luciana Berger, who quit Labour in February over the party's alleged anti-Semitic prejudice, later joining the Liberal Democrats, said on Twitter: "Unprecedented and devastating intervention from the Chief Rabbi.”

Former Labour MP, Ian Austin, who quit the party in February, wrote on Twitter: "It is unprecedented for the Chief Rabbi to have to do this.

"It is heartbreaking to see a party so many of us joined to fight racism and which had such a proud record of fighting for equality reduced to this.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid, said he was “very saddened" by the Chief Rabbi's comments.

He wrote on Twitter: ”To think the Chief Rabbi of a European nation has to say this about a contender for high office in 2019. We should all reflect on the state of our politics."

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