Jeremy Corbyn under fire from Tom Watson over handling of anti-Semitism

John Ware

Labour is braced for further revelations in a potentially damaging BBC Panorama investigation on anti-Semitism in the party which is due to be aired on Wednesday night.

The Panorama team spoke to eight former Labour officials, including seven who worked for the party's complaints and disputes department.

Labour told the BBC that "at all levels [it] is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism", and seeks to remove the "social cancer" from the party and humanity.

The documentary also features emails suggesting general secretary Jennie Formby tried to interfere in who was on a panel investigating a high-profile case.

Echoing his shadow cabinet colleague Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Watson said members should be automatically expelled if there is a "prima facie" case of antisemitism to answer.

The membership organisation say they have collected testimonies from dozens of current and former Labour staff-members since September 2018 to hand to the equalities watchdog.

Labour's disputes team is supposed to operate independently from the party's political structures, including the leader's office.

"There's nearly a permissive culture that people can use anti-Jewish, racist language both in our meetings and to each other on social media and we've failed to address that properly", Watson later told BBC radio.

"It does seem to me that there is obviously some participation in these disciplinary cases from the leader's office, which means they are responsible for dealing with the rebuilding of trust in the Jewish community".

He claimed Mr Corbyn was the "only one" who could fix the issue.

Labour, which has been braced for the accusations, wrote to BBC director-general Lord Hall to complain ahead of the broadcast.

He said: "The programme adheres to the BBC's editorial guidelines".

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It is shameful that the BBC has joined in an orchestrated campaign whose principal aim is quite clearly to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister of a Labour government committed to socialism.

"This is what we wanted, to get the story out there and to tell the truth about what happened".

This week three senior peers have quit the Labour whip amid continuing controversy over anti-Semitism within its ranks.

But Labour said it "completely" rejected any claims it was anti-Semitic.

It features a claim complaints were processed directly by aides in Mr Corbyn's Westminster office on one occasion, the broadcaster said.

"It showed the downplaying of serious allegations".

He said the whistleblowers' claims showed the need for "a full independent system of investigating cases of anti-Jewish racism that involves representatives from the Jewish community and Britain of standing".

Following the release of the film, Labour Against Anti-Semitism, an internal party group, said in a statement that the reputation of the Labour Party "has been shredded by a Hard Left establishment that has proven apparently incapable of addressing the endemic racism within" and that "their reign must be quickly and efficiently ended".

"It was heartbreaking to watch the testimony of honourable lifelong Labour officials contemplating suicide and suffering breakdowns because of the actions of Mr. Corbyn and his team", said CAA chief executive Gideon Falter.

"Whether he himself is an anti-Semite or not is an irrelevance".

The Panorama documentary has since been condemned by the Labour Party.

After Corbyn ally Jennie Formby became General Secretary of the party, the program detailed, the situation became even worse, and frustration gave way to outright despair. A 2015 Panorama episode Ware produced on Corbyn made false claims and was widely denounced as a "hatchet job", while a 2005 program Ware produced about British Muslims was slammed as "McCarthyite" and "disgusting" - the latter by a former Panorama journalist.

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