Jeremy Corbyn casts doubt on impartiality of watchdog investigating Labour antisemitism claims

Rob Merrick
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media on the coronavirus pandemic outside the Finsbury Park Jobcentre, north London, on 15 March 2020: PA

Jeremy Corbyn has cast doubt on the impartiality of the watchdog investigating whether Labour was antisemitic under his leadership, ahead of its crucial report.

Ministers had underfunded the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) “to take away its independent status and make it part of the government machine”, the former party leader claimed.

Asked whether he believed that lack of independence would influence the EHRC’s upcoming report on Labour antisemitism, Mr Corbyn replied: “Let’s see what happens.”

The interview, with Middle East Eye, was fiercely criticised by the organisation Labour Against Antisemitism, which described it as “unacceptable”.

“By apparently appearing to invent a bizarre conspiracy theory about Conservative underfunding of this independent and highly-respected body, Mr Corbyn has once again brought the Labour Party into disrepute,” said Euan Philipps, its spokesperson.

The group “urged Keir Starmer to issue a statement reiterating his support for the EHRC and for the findings of its investigation”.

It is more than a year since the EHRC began its formal investigation into whether Labour has “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people” from the Jewish community.

The controversy dogged Mr Corbyn and inflicted huge damage during last year’s disastrous general election campaign, which triggered his resignation.

In the interview, he also dismissed allegations that he had tolerated antisemitism as “wrong and extremely unfair” and claimed credit for putting in place more robust processes to tackle the issue.

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