Jeremy Corbyn has denied having any current contact with a self-confessed Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, telling Channel 4 News on Monday that he had never made a substantial donation to either Eisen or his Deir Yassin Remembered charity.
The Labour leadership frontrunner was last week accused by the Jewish Chronicle of associating with “Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites” in an editorial that expressed "deep foreboding at the prospect of Mr Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.”
On Monday, Corbyn responded for the first time personally to the accusations, claiming Holocaust denial was “vile and wrong.” He said: “I have no contact now whatsoever with Paul Eisen. I did attend a number of events concerning DYR a number of years ago."
“I think it’s reasonable we should remember all those people who have suffered in the Middle East on whatever side,” he added. Eisen had recently claimed Corbyn had “put his chequebook on the table” to support his cause, however the veteran Islington MP said he had “no recollection of a chequebook on the table.”
Corbyn said: "Fifteen years ago he was not a Holocaust denier; if he had been I would have had nothing to do with him. The Holocaust was the most vile part of our history. The Jewish people killed were the ones who suffered the most in the 21st century. Whatever happened to that memorial fund I don’t know, it was a long time ago.
However, Corbyn did admit that he might have donated to the Deir Yassin cause by “throwing cash in a bucket” at an event.
The Channel 4 News report also questioned Corbyn on his alleged connections with Raed Salah, an Islamic hate preacher who blames Israel for 9/11 attacks, and has called for a global caliphate. "Raed Salah is an Israeli citizen who travelled to this country in a completely normal way,” responded the veteran campaigner.
"The issue was objected to by one Conservative MP, Mike Freer, he was detained, challenged it and returned to Israel. We had quite a long conversation and I made my views very clear. He did not at any stage utter any anti-Semitic remarks to me. Had he been convicted at that time then I’m surprised the Israeli government allowed him to travel.”
Asked to admit if that meeting was one in a series of misjudgments, Corbyn snapped back: “You’re putting a lot of words into my mouth about misjudgments. Any form of racism is wrong, the need to talk to people to bring about a peace process is absolutely right.”
On Monday, former Labour MP David Miliband received a cool response after declaring his support for Liz Kendall in the leadership race.