Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Shami Chakrabarti to lead Labour's anti-Semitism inquiry

Shami Chakrabarti to lead Labour's anti-Semitism inquiry


Jeremy Corbyn calls for independent inquiry under the former director of Liberty to tackle racism

Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of Liberty and now door tenant at 39 Essex Chambers, has been appointed to lead the independent inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

Last week, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, announced the establishment of an inquiry into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism within his party.

Labour's Bradford West MP, Naz Shah, was suspended by the party after she appeared to back a call for Israelis be deported to the United States in a Facebook post from 2014.

The controversy was exacerbated after former London mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism 'before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews'.

The veteran politician was subsequently suspended from Labour 'for bringing the party into disrepute'.

'Labour is an anti-racist party to its core and has a long and proud history of standing against racism, including anti-Semitism,' said Corbyn.

'I have campaigned against racism all my life and the Jewish community has been at the heart of the Labour party and progressive politics in Britain for more than a hundred years.

'We have taken decisive action over allegations of anti-Semitism since I became leader, suspending all those involved from membership, and have set up an inquiry under Baroness Royall into reports of anti-Semitism in the Oxford University Labour Club and elsewhere.'

The leader of the opposition continued: 'I am now proposing to Labour's national executive committee that it adopts a code of conduct on anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, and establishing an inquiry into tackling anti-Semitism and other forms of racism under the former director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti.

'There is no place for anti-Semitism or any form of racism in the Labour party, or anywhere in society, and we will make sure that our party is a welcoming home to members of all communities.'

The vice-chair of the inquiry has been announced as Professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

The inquiry, which will report in two months, will consult widely with the Jewish community and other minority representatives on a statement of principles and guidance about anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, including Islamophobia.

The inquiry will look at guidance about the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and language; clear and transparent compliance procedures for dealing with allegations of racism; training programmes for members; and, if necessary, changes to the code of conduct and party rules.

The recommendations of the inquiry led by Baroness Royall into the Oxford University Labour Club and other issues will feed into this wider inquiry.

Speaking to Channel 4 News last week, the shadow education secretary, Lucy Powell, said: 'There clearly is an issue with anti-Semitism in the Labour party otherwise we wouldn't have spent the best part of the last six or seven days talking about it.

'I think it is a very small element within the Labour party and probably a small element in wider society as well. And that's why we are taking swift action to root it out.'

In an article for the Telegraph published today, Britain's Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, warned that there must be no place for anti-Semitism in UK politics and called for 'decisive action' to be taken after Labour's inquiry is concluded.