An election candidate for the British Labour Party has been accused of running a secret Facebook group to help party members defend themselves against accusations of anti-Semitism.
The Daily Mail reported on Sunday that Maria Carroll, who is standing in the marginal seat of Camarthen East in Wales, was found to be the co-founder and administrator of a page which advises Labour members accused of anti-Semitism on how to avoid expulsion from the party.
She had personally advised members who had spouted views including Holocaust denial on social media, the newspaper reported.
One member of the group, Peterborough Council Labour candidate Alan Bull, was said to have shared posts on Facebook claiming “the murder of six million Jews is a hoax”.
Another of his posts claimed Tony Blair’s New Labour was a “Mossad front” and that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, murdered Princess Diana.
Bull, who was selected as a council candidate in 2017, initially said his posts were “doctored” before admitting they were “a bad mistake”. Bull was suspended from Labour last year.
Labour’s Compliance Unit investigated him after receiving two complaints, during which time he was allegedly advised on Carroll’s Facebook group, according to the Daily Mail.
The newspaper said Carroll urged Bull to delete all his social media posts about his case, while her co-administrator on the group, Caroline Tipler, told him to submit a request to Labour under the Data Protection Act to give him access to any information the party held on him and to refuse to cooperate unless it did so.
Labour Against Antisemitism and Gnasherjew, a group of investigators who quit Labour over anti-Semitism allegations, said the Facebook group’s 400 members included councillors, candidates and party officials.
Denny Taylor, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said, “These revelations confirm that the Labour Party appears to have spent the last four years apparently encouraging a toxic culture of anti-Jewish discrimination to flourish.”
“If true responsibility for this must be levelled directly at Jeremy Corbyn. That an alleged network of high ranking Labour officials appear to have been secretly colluding to protect antisemitic members from expulsion is no surprise,” he continued.
“What is alarming is the apparent depth and scale of the network, and the seniority of some of the figures mentioned,” concluded Taylor.
Carroll, in a lengthy Twitter thread on Sunday, denied the allegations and said she had not seen the social media posts in question. Had she seen them, said Carroll, she would have immediately condemned them and called them out.
“I’ve been an outspoken critic of antisemitism in our Party, including calling out antisemitic abuse towards Luciana Berger and antisemitism denialism within our Party. I’ve been blocked by antisemitic accounts as a result,” she wrote.
“I joined that group when leftwing members were being suspended from the Labour Party en masse to stop them voting in the 2016 Labour leadership election, for incidents such as retweeting Caroline Lucas. When I noticed the group begin to focus on antisemitism I left it.”
The report is the latest example of the anti-Semitism that has dogged the Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in recent years.
Corbyn, who took control of the Labour Party in 2015, has faced ongoing accusations of anti-Semitism, both over his history of hostility towards Israel and support for anti-Israel terrorist groups, as well as the rise in anti-Jewish rhetoric within the party.
Dozens of Labour members have been suspended over their anti-Semitic statements in recent years.
Critics, including the Labour Party’s Jewish Labour Movement, have accused Corbyn of suppressing investigations into Labour members accused of anti-Semitism.
Corbyn recently tried to reassure Jewish voters in Britain that they have nothing to fear from a possible Labour government.