Labour Party's top lawyer quits after contentious retweet by new member

The latest revelations underscore Labour's inability to deal with its ongoing antisemitism problem.

July 6, 2019 22:37
2 minute read.
Labour Party's top lawyer quits after contentious retweet by new member

Britain's opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn listens to speeches during the Labour party Conference in Brighton, Britain, September 24, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The UK Labour Party's response to antisemitism is in turmoil after its top lawyer stepped down from his role on Friday, The Independent reported. 

Gordon Nardell QC, a key figure hired by the party last year to help tackle Labour's antisemitism problem, added to the renewed pressure the party was facing this week, following a contentious retweet by the party's incoming head of membership, Jules Rutherford on Thursday.

Rutherford, who is due to start the job on Monday, shared a tweet by "Jack Jazz" which claimed that antisemitism allegations against party members are being used as a “political weapon” to “smear” party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The tweet included a video in which Professor Norman Finkelstein described the antisemitism claims as "witch-hunt hysteria." It was subsequently removed from Rutherford's feed following a request for comment from Labour by PoliticsHome.

Labour has been in damage control for some time over rampant antisemitism allegations and will now be forced to find a new lawyer to defend the party, following Nardell’s departure.

Party sources told The Independent that a documentary which is set to be aired on the BBC's Panorama program is said to contain further damaging allegations about antisemitism. This, according to the sources, may have led Nardell to quit.

The documentary has the party leadership “running around in panic,” according to sources quoted by The Independent.

“Gordon Nardell’s tenure as General Counsel will be remarkable only for the absolute chaos and political manipulation within the Governance and Legal Unit that took place on his watch," a spokesperson for the Jewish Labour movement (JLM) said.

“The party leadership’s total failure to address anti-Jewish racism has led to the EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] launching a statutory investigation into institutional racism following JLM’s referral. It is unsurprising that he has now resigned.

“The leadership must be held accountable for the culture of harassment, intimidation and causal racism that has gripped the party, and follow Nardell’s example.”

JLM chairman Mike Katz tweeted earlier on Friday that the retweet by Labour's incoming head of membership, Jules Rutherford, was “just awful, but who's surprised?”

“This is why EHRC are [sic] investigating the party for institutional anti-Jewish racism," he said. "In today's party, you virtue-signal by being casually racist.” This implies that the party's culture is such that in order to be accepted by other members, antisemitic comments are required of its members.

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