JEREMY CORBYN, leader of the Labour Party, gives a speech in London last month..
(photo credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has admitted that evidence of antisemitism in the party may have been "mislaid, ignored or not used" by his staff.
A secret recording obtained by UK weekly The Sunday Times revealed Corbyn making these remarks during a February meeting with Parliament Member for Barking, Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish.
Hodge has been victim to antisemitism in the party. In July, she came to blows with Corbyn in which she called him an "antisemite" and a "racist" to his face. She has continued to be a fierce critic of the Labour leader.
In the recording, Corbyn refers to his reasons for appointing former cabinet minister Lord Charlie Falconer to look into Labour’s antisemitism complaints and review the process.
"Just to reassure you, [Falconer is] not going to be running the system; he's not entitled to do that," the Labour leader was recorded as saying.
“The point of him [Falconer] is that he will look at the speed of dealing with cases," Corbyn said in the recording. "The administration of them and the collation of the evidence before it is put before appropriate panels and things. Because I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used and that there had to be some better system.”
A Labour spokesperson told BBC that the tape showed Corbyn's desire for "robust and efficient" procedures and to "rebuild trust with the Jewish community."
However, the party as a whole "dismissed the claims."
Meanwhile, last week the Jewish Labour Movement voted to pass a motion of no confidence in Corbyn with its national secretary Peter Mason stating that reports of "delays, inaction and interference from the leader's office showed the party's processes were 'incapable of dealing with anti-Jewish racism.'"
Last month, following the meeting, Hodge wrote a letter to Corbyn saying that he had misled her about its approach to antisemitism. Hodge said that Corbyn had assured her that there had been no interference from his office "in the disciplinary process to prevent a party member from being suspended for antisemitism."
However, a report by The Observer stated otherwise, clearly showing that his office had in fact intervened in the disciplinary process.
This weekend, Hodge also joined seven other MPs from the party who wrote a letter to The Sunday Times
calling for a "fully independent" body to deal with racism, harassment and bullying within the party, as well as the "growing backlog of unresolved cases of vile racism."
"Despite telling us things are better, the party has clearly failed to get to grips with its antisemitism problem," the letter reads. "The current complaints system is broken. There must be a real change at the top of the party."
They said that an investigation by an independent body is the only way "to rebuild trust with its members and the wider Jewish community."
The Jewish Board of Deputies also penned a letter to the paper in response to the recording, saying it proves their concerns about Labour’s apparent “partisan and corrupt” disciplinary process, adding that: “History will not be kind to them.”
Hodge retweeted the Jewish Board's post saying that "nothing has changed."
"Corbyn must listen to Jewish community groups and take concrete steps to fight the antisemitism crisis engulfing our Party," she wrote.
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