LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s main opposition Labour party was responsible for unlawful harassment and discrimination in its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism under the previous leadership of left-wing veteran Jeremy Corbyn, an equalities body said.
Corbyn’s tenure was marred by persistent complaints of anti-Semitism in party ranks, and criticism of the leader’s response, prompting the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to launch an investigation in May 2019.
“The investigation has identified serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing anti-Semitism and an inadequate process for handling anti-Semitism complaints,” the EHRC said in a statement.
The EHRC said the Labour Party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints; failure to provide proper training to handle the complaints and harassment.
“Our investigation has highlighted multiple areas where its approach and leadership to tackling anti-Semitism was insufficient,” Caroline Waters, interim chair of the EHRC, said.
“This is inexcusable and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so.”
Corbyn said anti-Semitism was “absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes. “As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of anti-Semitism.”
The party which governed Britain for 13 years from 1997 under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown has sought to draw a line under the Corbyn era with the appointment of the country’s former public prosecutor Keir Starmer.
He is due to make a statement later.
Corbyn’s Labour was soundly beaten by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in a December election, and Starmer is seeking to break with the past in time for the next election, scheduled for 2024.
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