Labour anti-Semitism row: Hodge claims Corbyn ‘misled’ her

Margaret HodgeImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Margaret Hodge has written to Jeremy Corbyn about the party’s approach to anti-Semitism

Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge has expressed fresh concerns about how her party is handling accusations of anti-Semitism.

In a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, she claims she has been misled over assurances that his office was not involved in any disciplinary process.

“Either you have intentionally misled me or your staff have been misleading you,” she complained.

Labour has dismissed her suggestion as “categorically untrue”.


Dame Margaret’s letter references a report by the Observer claiming that internal documents showed senior Labour figures last year opposed recommendations to suspend several party activists accused of anti-Semitism.

The Barking MP wrote that she had been left “bewildered” by the account in the newspaper which “contradicts what you told me to my face last week”.

Referring to a discussion she had with Mr Corbyn, she said: “I distinctly remember it being said that it would be appalling if staff in the Leader’s Office intervened or had a role in complaints.

“I was given categorical assurances that this does not happen and has never happened.

“However, it is clear from the whistleblower’s account [in the Observer] that your staff did intervene and have had a direct role in complaints.”

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Luciana Berger left Labour, claiming the party was institutionally anti-Semitic

Dame Margaret told BBC Radio 4’s Today that Mr Corbyn had given her “absolute, copper-bottomed undertakings that there was no interference in the complaints process by his inner circle, by his top team”.

However, she claimed “a whole number of his top team, not just one person, lots of them” were involved in decisions about individual complaints, adding: “They interfere and they lower the sanctions. People aren’t suspended, they’re just given a warning letter.

“What is so awful about this is that Jeremy always proclaims zero tolerance of anti-Semitism. When it comes to the actual cases, if they’re his mates he doesn’t demonstrate zero tolerance.”

She added she had seen “so much evidence” of political interference, adding: “Trust in him is gone.”

‘More robust’

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Any suggestion that staff in the Leaders’ Office overturned recommendations on individual cases is categorically untrue.”

He added: “Since becoming general secretary, Jennie Formby has made procedures for dealing with complaints about anti-Semitism more robust.

“Staff who work on disciplinary matters have always led on investigations and recommendations on individual cases.”

Ms Formby – a former Unite union official – is the most senior employee of the Labour Party and is in charge of its 400 or so backroom staff.

The party’s leadership has been accused of tolerating a culture of anti-Semitism by a number of MPs who have quit the party, including Luciana Berger and Joan Ryan.

Ms Berger said she had come to the “sickening conclusion” that the party had become institutionally anti-Semitic and that she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to stay.

‘Loss of trust’

Mr Corbyn has insisted he is “committed to eliminating anti-Semitism wherever it exists”.

“Prejudice and hatred of Jewish people has no place whatsoever in the Labour Party,” he said earlier this year.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has spoken of a “loss of trust” in the party’s processes and has asked MPs to forward anti-Semitism complaints to him as well as the party.

That call prompted Ms Formby to accuse Mr Watson of “unacceptable” behaviour and claim he was trying to undermine her work.

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