POLITICS
13/07/2019 12:58 BST | Updated 13/07/2019 15:17 BST

Laura Pidcock Aide Calls It 'Really Unfair' Journalist Asked Labour Minister About Anti-Semitism

Ben Sellers says Sky News promised to focus on Durham miners' gala despite crisis engulfing party.

An aide to shadow Labour minister Laura Pidcock called it “really unfair” that journalists asked the high-profile politician about anti-Semitism instead of a festival celebrating working class history. 

Ben Sellers, head of office for the North West Durham MP, was caught on camera complaining to a Sky News journalist about an interview which focused on the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis facing the party, with Pidcock agreeing the questions had been “unfair”.

Sellers said the journalist instead should have asked about the Durham miners’ gala, where 100,000 people are gathering to hear Pidcock and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speak. 

During the interview, Pidcock was repeatedly asked to defend Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints. 

It comes after a BBC Panorama investigation exposed that the party asked staff dealing with allegations of Jew hatred made against members to sign non-disclosure agreements. 

It was also claimed that the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby deleted emails and may have interfered in the complaints process - something which she strongly denies.

The party’s leadership has also complained to the BBC about the investigation, claiming the programme showed bias against Labour.

Labour MP Wes Streeting hit out after the episode, telling his party colleagues to “get used to” media scrutiny and to stop attacking journalists.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said there were “many, many, inaccuracies” in the BBC Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the party.

Corbyn said the programme adopted a “pre-determined position” before it was aired earlier this week.

Speaking during a visit to the Durham Miners’ Gala, Corbyn said: “I watched the programme and I felt there were many, many inaccuracies in the programme.

“The programme adopted a pre-determined position on its own website before it was broadcast.

“We’ve made very clear what our processes are.

“Our party members do have the right to be heard if they’re accused of anything and our party staff have a right to be supported and they are supported.”

He added: “Anti-Semitism is a poison, it is vile, it is wrong. It is a poison in our society and any other society.

“It is not acceptable in any form.”

Labour’s bitter row over anti-Semitism further intensified this week with attacks on Tom Watson, and Diane Abbott highlighting a call for his resignation.

Shadow home secretary Abbott retweeted a series of critical remarks about the deputy leader, including one questioning his position.

The diatribes came after Watson ramped up pressure on the party over its handling of anti-Semitism in the wake of the damning BBC Panorama documentary.