Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to take action against ally Peter Willsman after he claimed people were “making up” incidents of anti-Semitism within Labour.
Willsman, a member of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), was recorded loudly dismissing some members of the Jewish community as simply “Trump fanatics”.
He is standing for re-election to the NEC on a slate with eight other Labour members back by the pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum.
Several allies of the Labour leader, including Guardian columnist Owen Jones and former spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin have said Willsman should withdraw from the elections.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson described the Willsman as as a “loud-mouthed bully”.
And Labour MP Luciana Berger, the Jewish Labour Movement chairwoman, said the comments were “sickening”.
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, called for Corbyn to personally intervene.
“I think it would be very helpful if Jeremy Corbyn could ask Pete Willsman to stand down from those elections,” she told BBC Radio 4′s World at One.
“I think that would actually help us make clear that the Labour party is going to take seriously anti-Semitism in future.”
Willsman made the comments at a meeting of the NEC earlier this month.
Corbyn was present at the meeting, but has not publicly commented on what was said.
Today Willsman apologised in a statement to the BBC, but said while there was a recording “not all of what I said has been accurately reported”.
“I accept that what I did say, and the way I said it, fell short of the requirement, which I accept, for discussions of contentious issues to be conducted in a fully civil and respectful way,” he said.
“I deeply apologise for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, made up of almost 300 deputies directly elected by synagogues and community organisations, said Labour had let Willsman off lightly by not yet taking disciplinary action against him.
In the audio clip acquired by the Jewish Chronicle, Willsman can be heard saying with a raised voice: “Some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics and all the rest of it.
“So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up information without any evidence at all.
“So I think we should ask the 70 rabbis ‘Where is your evidence of severe and widespread anti-Semitism in this party?’”