Labour MP Chris Williamson To Be Investigated Over Anti-Semitism Comments

But he will not be suspended, the party said, despite widespread calls for his removal.

Labour has rebuffed demands for MP Chris Williamson to be suspended for claiming the party had been “too apologetic” over anti-Semitism.

A chorus of Labour MPs expressed shock and disgust after a video of the Corbyn ally was unearthed on Wednesday in which he said the party had “given too much ground” on the issue.

Following a furious backlash over his remarks, Williamson said he deeply regretted his “choice of words”.

But this did not go far enough for many in Labour, who have demanded the Derby North MP be suspended or expelled.

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday that Williamson had been given a “notice of investigation” into a “pattern” of behaviour. But would not be suspended while it was conducted.

The party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, was vocal in denouncing the MP. He said the “long-winded and heavily caveated apology” was not good enough.

Theresa May told Corbyn during PMQs that his ally should be suspended from Labour.

Video footage showed the MP telling a meeting of the grassroots Momentum group that Labour’s reaction to anti-Semitism allegations had been “too apologetic” and had led to the party being “demonised”.

He had already provoked the party’s ire by booking a room in parliament for the screening of a film about an activist suspended for alleged anti-Semitism, something which a Labour spokesman described as “completely inappropriate”.

The video, obtained by the Yorkshire Post, was recorded at a meeting in Sheffield in the wake of last week’s resignation of eight Labour MPs to join the Independent Group.

Wiliamson was filmed saying he had celebrated the resignation of MP Joan Ryan, who quit Labour in protest over the handling of anti-Semitism and bullying complaints.

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Chris Williamson has rightly apologised and withdrawn his remarks and he has been issued with a notice of investigation for a pattern of behaviour and is not suspended during the investigation.”

When asked how long that pattern of behaviour had occurred, the spokesman added it would cover ‘more than the period’ of the past three weeks.

In the past three weeks, Corbyn himself defended the backbencher. He told the Derby Evening Telegraph: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-semitic in any way”.

The spokesman added: “The NEC [National Executive Committee] can pass the case to the NCC [National Constitutional Committee] and their ultimate sanction is expulsion.”

Other MPs who have been subject to investigations by the party, including John Woodcock and Jared O’Mara, were suspended while the inquiries were conducted.

Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said Williamson should be expelled. “The man’s a disgrace. Those views are incompatible with the aims and values of the Labour Party. He has no place in my party. He should leave,” she said.

Margaret Hodge, the veteran Labour MP, also called for him to be suspended. “You cannot be ‘too apologetic’ about racism. This man has form and these are not Labour values,” she said.

The Jewish Chronicle also reported today Williamson had recently said Labour was acting like the “Stasi” in its response to its anti-Semitism crisis.


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