Lord Sugar deletes tweet showing Corbyn next to Hitler after backlash

Former Labour peer Lord Sugar has taken down a tweet showing Jeremy Corbyn in a car next to Hitler after it sparked a Twitter row.

Lord Sugar, a businessman who was born into a Jewish family, had posted the picture on Friday night, saying: "Many a true word spoken in jest Corbyn."

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell had called on him to "delete and disown" the tweet.

The image showed the Labour leader's head superimposed on someone else's body, sitting next to the Nazi dictator. The caption read: "When you're pictured at Nuremberg and claim you thought you were going to a car rally."

Mr Corbyn has been embroiled in a row over anti-Semitism within the Labour party after a Facebook comment surfaced in which he had appeared to defend a mural depicting a group of Jewish financiers and white businessmen playing a Monopoly-style game on a board balanced on the backs of people.

Mr Corbyn said: "I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic."

The Labour leader also said in a Passover message on Friday that there is a "need to do better", and promised Jewish people he is their "ally" in the fight against anti-Semitism.

Mr McDonnell responded to Lord Sugar's tweet, saying: "I just make this appeal to him. Please delete and disown it. We all desperately need to bring people together now.

"We can hold strong views about each other's politics but now is the time to learn from each other and unite people."

Lord Sugar said the post was "a joke" and the "angry brigade like to moan".

But a few hours later he appeared to have deleted the original post, as he replied to the shadow chancellor, saying: "Dear Mr McDonnell. I am sorry you are offended by my retweet on the picture. First let me say I am not the originator it has been doing the rounds.

"You need to get Corbyn to make a firm statement about antisemitism. There is no smoke without fire in Labour."

Mr McDonnell then tweeted his thanks to Lord Sugar for deleting the tweet.

Lord Sugar responded: "You should follow me so I can send you direct messages."

Earlier, two Labour MPs had joined Mr McDonnell in calling for the tweet to be deleted.

Chris Williamson said the peer has brought his position into disrepute, saying the post "promotes hatred and that is irresponsible".

"I hope you will therefore swallow your pride, delete it and make a fulsome apology," he added.

The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, John Mann, said the tweet was libellous and Lord Sugar "might find it sensible to reword or remove it".

He tweeted: "The use of Hitler/ Nazi comparators is demeaning, unwarranted and dangerous. You damage the fight against anti Semitism with this @Lord--Sugar. Withdraw this and apologise please."

Lord Sugar, host of The Apprentice, resigned from the Labour party in 2015 in protest at its stance on business.

Mr Corbyn has come under increasing pressure in recent days.

Some 39 Labour MPs and peers have written to Mr Corbyn urging him to suspend Christine Shawcroft from the National Executive Committee (NEC) after she backed a local council candidate accused of anti-Semitic social media posts.

Ms Shawcroft said she had "not seen the appalling and abhorrent post" and wouldn't have sent a supportive email if she had.