Labour drop disciplinary inquiry into Dame Margaret Hodge

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Labour has dropped its inquiry into senior MP Dame Margaret Hodge despite her refusal to apologise to Jeremy Corbyn for allegedly shouting at the Labour leader over anti-Semitism in the party.

Dame Margaret said she was "pleased" after general secretary Jennie Formby wrote to inform her she would face no further action for her alleged "abusive behaviour".

But after journalists were briefed, the decision had been taken after she expressed "regret" to Labour chief whip Nick Brown for the way she raised her views, Dame Margaret hit back insisting she had said no such thing.

The investigation into her conduct followed a heated exchange last month in which she was said to have called Mr Corbyn and an "anti-Semite" and a "racist" over his refusal to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

In a letter from her lawyers Mishcon de Reya, posted on social media by Dame Margaret, they accused Ms Formby of misrepresenting her position in a "cynical attempt to save face in your necessary climbdown".

The letter said it was over two weeks since Dame Margaret had spoken to Mr Brown about the matter and that they had had no further discussions since.

"She did not express regret - in those or any other words," the letter said.

"As you are aware, our client will not apologise for her conduct and words, as she did nothing wrong.

"You have entirely misrepresented our client's discussions with the opposition chief whip in a cynical attempt to save face in your necessary climbdown."

Gideon Falter, of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said the decision to drop the inquiry against her was a "humiliating capitulation" by the party.

"The entire Jewish community was disgusted by the way that Dame Margaret was victimised simply for confronting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party," he said.

"We applaud her for standing up against anti-Semitism in the party and for refusing to bow to the considerable pressure put on her to apologise."

The decision to drop the inquiry comes after deputy leader Tom Watson called for the investigations into Dame Margaret and a second Labour MP Ian Austin - who clashed with party chairman Ian Lavery over the issue - to be abandoned.