Corbyn under pressure following documentary on anti-Semitism

Labour's deputy leader says he is "appalled" following BBC documentary revealing that Corbyn team interfered with anti-Semitism probes.

Ben Ariel ,

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn came under renewed pressure over anti-Semitism on Thursday after a string of former officials spoke out about the party's failure to tackle discrimination in a BBC documentary.

Former officials, including the main opposition's former general secretary Iain McNicol, broke non-disclosure agreements to allege that members of Corbyn's inner circle had interfered with investigations into anti-Semitism in the left-wing party.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson, who has been critical of Corbyn, said the revelations were "harrowing", according to an AFP report.

"I am shocked, chilled and appalled by what I've just seen on 'Panorama'," he tweeted.

"There's almost a permissive culture that people can use anti-Jewish, racist language both in our meetings and to each other on social media and we've failed to address that properly," Watson told BBC radio.

Meanwhile, a party spokesman said Labour was "taking decisive action to root out anti-Semitism from our movement and society" and said the documentary was "an overtly biased intervention by the BBC in party political controversy."

Nick Lowles, chief executive of the Hope Not Hate campaign group, said the BBC documentary showed interference by Labour officials in anti-Semitism investigations.

"It showed the downplaying of serious allegations. It showed an appalling lack of understanding of the hurt, and fear, felt by Jewish party members and the wider Jewish community," he said, according to AFP.

The party has been shaken by accusations of anti-Semitism for several years, with dozens of Labour members having been suspended over their anti-Semitic statements.

In May, Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, the country’s foremost government watchdog on racism, launched an investigation into Labour’s anti-Semitism problem.

Corbyn himself has been accused of holding anti-Semitic views by senior UK Jewish leaders. Corbyn has also been criticized for calling Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends" and for outright refusing to condemn those two terrorist organizations despite being urged to do so by local Jewish groups.

Much of the criticism against Corbyn is over his playing down the anti-Semitism in his party and alienating Jews, but he insists he is not an anti-Semite and claims he has opposed it his entire life.