Labour may face statutory investigation over antisemitism

Antisemitism Labour protest

A protest organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism against the Labour Party last year.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Labour Party may face an investigation by the nation’s equalities watchdog over complaints about antisemitism within the party.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) believes there is evidence that Labour may have unlawfully breached equality legislation and has given the party 14 days to respond.

If the response is deemed unsatisfactory, the independent body may launch a formal investigation into the party under Section 20 of the Equality Act 2006.



An EHRC spokesperson said: "Having received a number of complaints regarding anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, we believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.

"Our concerns are sufficient for us to consider using our statutory enforcement powers.”

It is understood Labour was referred to the EHRC by the Campaign Against Antisemitism in July 2018, which submitted detailed legal arguments both in November 2018 and earlier this week.

The Jewish Labour Movement, which yesterday warned that Labour had a month to satisfactorily act on antisemitism or risk the movement disassociating itself from the party, also submitted evidence to the commission. 



'High time' for an independent investigation 

A Labour spokesperson said the party would fully co-operate with the EHRC. 

Barrister Adam Wagner, who assisted the Campaign Against Anisemitism in filing the complaint, said it would be "very significant" if the EHRC decided to carry out an investigation

He added: "I think we have got to a stage where the Labour Party is unable to manage the crisis on its own, whether through neglicance, lack of willing, or potentially just a lack of understanding of the issue.

"I think it is high time that an independent body comes in to look at the issue."

A Labour Party spokesperson said the party was "fully committed" to supporting, defending and celebrating the Jewish Community. 

They added: "We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be co-operating fully with the EHRC.

"Anti-Semitism complaints received since April 2018 relate to about 0.1% of our membership, but one anti-Semite in our party is one too many. We are determined to tackle anti-Semitism and root it out of our party."