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Labour anti-Semitism allegations to be probed by police

British police have opened an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitic hate crimes within the Labour P...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 1:03 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 1:03 PM

British police have opened an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitic hate crimes within the Labour Party.

The move, which was announced Friday, comes after a dossier of information detailing 45 cases of anti-Semitism was handed over to police by London-based radio station LBC last month.

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A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that a criminal investigation had been started to examine a number of allegations within the document.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told the BBC Friday that the Labour Party itself was not under investigation but said the allegations would be examined.

"We are not going to investigate the Labour Party. We would always want institutions and political parties and similar to be able to regulate themselves," she told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

"However, if somebody passes us material which they say amounts to a crime we have a duty to look at that and not just dismiss it.

"We have been assessing some material that was passed to me, in a radio studio of all things, about two months ago and we are now investigating some of that material because it appears there may have been crime committed. We are liaising immediately with the Crown Prosecution Service and I hope we will be able to clear that up very quickly."

According to LBC, one case involved a party member who posted on Facebook that a Jewish Labour lawmaker was "about to get a good kicking."

LBC also alleges that a serving Labour counselor inflicted "ten years of hell" on a child by calling him "Jew Boy" while in another post, two lawmakers were threatened with being thrown off the top of a building.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson said that he was "not surprised" by the police's investigation, adding it was "thoroughly depressing."

"If people have committed hate crimes then they need to be dealt with by the full force of the law, there is no role for them in the Labour Party," he told the BBC.

"If this does one thing it will be able to silence a very small number of people who still believe that anti-Semitism doesn't exist in my party or in other parties.

"That hampers the campaign that many of us have had over many months now to try and deal with this problem as quickly and as swiftly and as forcefully as we can."

A Labour spokesperson told CNN that the party "has a robust system for investigating complaints of alleged breaches of Labour party rules by its members. Where someone feels they have been a victim of crime, they should report it to the police in the usual way."

The spokesperson also add that the party had not been contacted by police but was "willing to cooperate."

Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the news of the investigation came as "no surprise."

"There is a deeply embedded culture of antisemitism in parts of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn has done close to nothing to address it, to the extent that some cases may now even meet a criminal threshold," she said in a statement.

Labour has been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the party in 2015. He has been heavily criticized for failing to tackle the issue, with UK Jewish groups holding protests across the country.

Corbyn, who long served on his party's backbenches in Parliament, has a history of associating with fringe left-wing groups whose support for the Palestinian cause often bleeds into anti-Semitism, wrote political commentator John McTernan earlier this year. When Corbyn became leader, those views were brought into the mainstream.

On July 25, Britain's three leading Jewish newspapers -- the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Telegraph and Jewish News -- took the unprecedented step of publishing the same front page, with the headline "United we stand," in which they argued that any Corbyn-led government would be an "existential threat" to Jewish life in Britain.

In September, Labour's national executive agreed to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism following a long-running dispute within the party.

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