Rachel Riley criticised for 'erasing anti-Apartheid message' with Photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn T-shirt

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: TV presenter Rachel Riley hands in a petition to 10 Downing Street on May 23, 2019 in London, England. Ms Riley joined other campaigners to hand in a petition of more than 35,000 signatures calling for more government funding for Dementia. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
'Countdown' star Rachel Riley has been accused of erasing an anti-racism message as part of a campaign against Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Rachel Riley has been criticised for wearing a T-shirt that erases an anti-Apartheid message.

The Countdown host shared a photo of herself wearing the top, that features a photoshopped image of Jeremy Corbyn, during the leader debate on Wednesday evening.

The white top has a large, black and white picture of the Labour leader holding up a sign that reads: “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour.”

However, the original image actually showed Mr Corbyn being led away by police during an anti-Apartheid rally in 1984, with the sign reading: "Defend the right to demonstrate against Apartheid; join this picket."

Riley, who is Jewish, has been a vocal critic of Labour's handling of anti-Semitism and has regularly accused Mr Corbyn of failing to properly address the issue.

Ahead of the TV debate between Mr Corbyn and Boris Johnson at MediaCity in Salford on Tuesday, she tweeted: "I didn't feel comfortable knowing my workplace was to be full of racists tonight. I don't endorse Boris, but I do endorse Never Corbyn."

The T-shirts were first seen last September when other anti-Corbyn protesters donned them at an anti-Semitism demo in London.

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The tweet attracted criticism online, with some accusing her of hypocrisy and alleging that removing the reference to Apartheid was itself offensive.

In response to Riley’s selfie, one Twitter user wrote: “Dislike corbyn, whatever – it’s a free country – but jfc a white person doing this shows a complete detachment from reality. Precisely the kind of behaviour rewarded by the media (as long as you attack the left).”

Read more: ‘My baby stopped moving in the womb following anti-semitic trolling,’ says Rachel Riley

Another added: “This is, without doubt, the craziest thing I’ve seen on twitter. A white person erasing an anti-Apartheid message is new levels of bizarre. It’s something you expect from the alt-right. This person has fronted ‘anti-trolling’ campaigns. Good grief.”

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However, actress Tracy Ann Oberman - who has also criticised the party over anti-Semitism - tweeted: "Saw @RachelRileyRR was trending. Assumed she'd had her and Pasha's baby. NOOOO just another massive evil organised Corbyn Troll Army pile on. They hate because they know you're getting your message out there Rachel. Stay strong #NeverCorbyn."

Read more: 'Countdown' contestant beams as Rachel Riley has to spell out another saucy word

Riley responded to criticism by referencing claims that Nelson Mandela declined to meet Mr Corbyn's anti-Apartheid movement CLAAG (City of London Anti-Apartheid Group).

She said on Twitter: "Without feeding individual ignorant trolls, this is why I have no qualms using this photo to highlight Corbyn's racism."

SALFORD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: (AVAILABLE FOR EDITORIAL USE UNTIL DECEMBER 19, 2019) In this handout image supplied by ITV,  Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn arranges his glasses during the ITV Leaders Debate at Media Centre on November 19, 2019 in Salford, England. This evening ITV hosted the first televised head-to-head Leader’s debate of this election campaign. Leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn faced Conservative party leader, Boris Johnson after the SNP and Liberal Democrats lost a court battle to be included. (Photo by Jonathan Hordle//ITV via Getty Images)
Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn took part in the first televised head-to-head Leader’s debate of the current election campaign on 19 November (Photo by Jonathan Hordle//ITV via Getty Images)

During the ITV Leaders' Debate between Mr Corbyn and the Prime Minister on Tuesday, the Labour leader said anti-Semitism was "an absolute evil and scourge within our society".

When asked further about the issue by host Julie Etchingham, Mr Corbyn responded: "I have taken action in my party, where anyone who has committed any anti-Semitic acts or made any anti-Semitic statements, they are either suspended or expelled from the party and we've investigated every single case."

After the debate, Jewish Labour Movement national secretary Peter Mason alleged the claim that every case had been investigated was a "lie", adding: "There are at least 130 outstanding anti-Semitism cases, some dating back years, that still haven't been dealt with."

With reporting by PA.

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