POLITICS
09/07/2019 13:14 BST | Updated 09/07/2019 13:31 BST

Chris Williamson Case Referred To Fresh Anti-Semitism Panel By Labour's Ruling NEC

The disputes committee opens way for full investigation.

The Independent

Labour MP Chris Williamson is facing the fresh threat of expulsion after the party’s ruling body decided to reopen a probe into his alleged anti-Semitism.

The National Executive Committee’s Disputes Committee referred his case to a specialist panel that will now reassess his conduct and determine whether a full investigation is merited.

After a 90-minute meeting, the NEC members decided to reject a previous recommendation to lift Williamson’s suspension. 

Williamson was placed under investigation in February after Jewish groups and MPs complained about a ‘pattern of behaviour’, including a video of him saying Labour had been “too apologetic” about its anti-Semitism problem.

But a three-member panel sparked an outcry last month when they ignored a recommendation by party staff to send his case to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) that deals with disciplinary matters.

Amid fury from Labour MPs, the party reimposed Williamson’s suspension from its parliamentary ranks and on Tuesday, the disputes committee stepped in to reopen his entire case. 

It is unclear when the new anti-semitism panel will convene but it if refers the case to the NCC, the MP faces a genuine threat of expulsion or other serious sanctions for his conduct.

A party source said that the NEC had acted in light of a letter from previous panel member Keith Vaz, which suggested procedural reasons for a reassessment. 

“The NEC Committee had the option of either accepting the decisions made by the panel or refer them to a new panel. The Committee decided not to accept them and to refer them to a new panel,” the source said.

Labour MPs had moved separately to withdraw the parliamentary whip from the backbencher in protest at the way he was allowed to return to full party membership.

The decision came as the party braced itself for a major BBC Panorama investigation into anti-Semitism in its ranks.

A number of former employees are reported to have torn up non-disclosure agreements to speak to the programme which is set to be broadcast on Wednesday.