LONDON: Britain’s Labour opposition suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday after he downplayed a report that detailed serious failings in the party’s handling of persistent anti-Semitism complaints during his 2015-2019 leadership.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it had found evidence of political interference in the processing of anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to people handling the complaints, and harassment.

“The ... analysis points to a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it,” the EHRC said.

Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, said he accepted the findings in full and would implement all the recommended reforms.

“It is a day of shame for the Labour Party. We have failed Jewish people... I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused,” he said.

“Never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism and never again will we lose your trust.”

Starmer has been trying to mark a clean break from the Corbyn era on the anti-Semitism issue, but the ruling Conservatives were quick to point out that he had held a senior post as Labour Brexit policy chief under Corbyn.

Corbyn, 71, said he did not accept all the EHRC findings, that the scale of the problem had been overstated by the media and by his political opponents, and that his attempts to deal with the issue had been blocked by “obstructive party bureaucracy”.

After his comments, Labour suspended him.

“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation,” it said in a statement.

Corbyn said he would contest his suspension, calling it a political intervention.

“Ive made absolutely clear that those who deny there has been an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong,” he said following his suspension.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020