Corbyn aide defends antisemitic activist accused of sexual harassment

Willsman was allowed to stay on the party’s ruling national executive committee regardless of Corbyn’s team’s knowledge of the allegations.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his party's headquarters in London, Britain September 14, 2015 (photo credit: NEIL HALL/REUTERS)
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his party's headquarters in London, Britain September 14, 2015
(photo credit: NEIL HALL/REUTERS)
The top aide to UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is under fire after reportedly dismissing an investigation into inappropriate behavior towards young women from a friend of the party leader, The Times (UK) reported Saturday.
The 75-year-old controversial activist, Pete Willsman, was accused of harassing women, sending texts saying he was “in his pajamas” and asking female staff how old they were and where they went clubbing, the report said.
               
“I am happy to discuss this matter with him directly if this is thought appropriate,” the Labour leader’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, said in leaked emails seen by The Times, therein dismissing an investigation. “This is not a matter to be managed under the sexual harassment policy.”
Senior party figures were made aware of Murphy’s handling of the situation but a source cited by The Times said that nobody responded because Murphy’s verdict was definitive.
Willsman was suspended by the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) in May following his recorded claims that an Israeli agent infiltrated Labour.
“It’s almost certain who is behind all this antisemitism against Jeremy: almost certainly, it was the Israeli embassy,” Willsman said in a recording released by the radio station LBC. "They caught somebody in the Labour party who it turns out is an agent in the embassy.”
The UK Labour Party has been consistently battling antisemitism allegations in recent years, which led the country’s foremost government watchdog on racism, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to officially launch an investigation into Labour’s antisemitism problem.
Willsman also extended his claims of Israeli interference to the letter written by 68 rabbis last year, saying Labour has chosen to ignore the Jewish community.
“In the Guardian not long ago, we had 68 rabbis obviously organized by the Israeli embassy, 68 rabbis saying ‘antisemitism in the Labour Party is widespread and severe,’” he said.
This comes just days after it was revealed Corbyn's chief political adviser Andrew Murray intervened in a case in which a Labour member faced suspension over an antisemitic comment, according to the Jewish Chronicle, using an email outside of their servers so as to avoid scrutiny.